Active ingredients in anti-stigma programmes in mental health

Int Rev Psychiatry. 2005 Apr;17(2):123-31. doi: 10.1080/09540260500073638.


This paper draws upon a review of the relevant literature and the results of the recent Mental Health Awareness in Action (MHAA) programme in England to discuss the current evidence base on the active ingredients in effective anti-stigma interventions in mental health. The MHAA Programme delivered educational interventions to 109 police officers, 78 adults from different community groups whose working lives involved supporting people with mental health problems but who had received no mental health training and 472 schools students aged 14-15. Each adult target group received two intervention sessions lasting two hours. The two school lessons were 50 minutes each. Knowledge, attitudes and behavioural intent were assessed at baseline and follow-up. In addition focus groups were held with mental health service users to explore the impact of stigma on their lives and facilitators of educational workshops were interviewed to provide expert opinion on 'what works' to reduce psychiatric stigma. Personal contact was predictive of positive changes in knowledge and attitudes for the school students but not the police officers or community adult group. The key active ingredient identified by all intervention groups and workshop facilitators were the testimonies of service users. The statements of service users (consumers) about their experience of mental health problems and of their contact with a range of services had the greatest and most lasting impact on the target audiences in terms of reducing mental health stigma.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Humans
  • Information Dissemination*
  • Mental Disorders / therapy*
  • Police
  • Program Development*
  • Stereotyping*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires