Crazy? So what! Effects of a school project on students' attitudes towards people with schizophrenia

B Schulze, M Richter-Werling, H Matschinger, M C Angermeyer
Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica 2003, 107 (2): 142-50

OBJECTIVE: Aiming at promoting young people's mental health and reducing stigma towards people with schizophrenia, project weeks were carried out with secondary school students aged 14-18 years (n=90). Key to the project week is meeting a (young) person with schizophrenia.

METHOD: Students' attitudes and behavioural intentions towards people with schizophrenia were assessed before and after the project. Parallelly, a control group of students were questioned (n=60). Assessment was repeated after 1 month.

RESULTS: Despite expected ceiling effects, the project led to a significant reduction of negative stereotypes. For social distance, a positive trend could be observed. These developments were not present with the controls. Attitude changes were still evident at the 1-month follow-up.

CONCLUSION: Results support the hypothesis that young people's attitudes about schizophrenia are susceptible to change. Antistigma projects at school level could thus be a promising approach to improving public attitudes and to preventing stereotypes from becoming reinforced.

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