Strategies and future attempts to reduce stigmatization and increase awareness of mental health problems among young people: a narrative review of educational interventions

Psychiatry Clin Neurosci. 2011 Aug;65(5):405-15. doi: 10.1111/j.1440-1819.2011.02239.x.


There is a need to reduce stigma and increase awareness in order to prevent social exclusion of people with mental illness and to facilitate the use of mental health services in young people. The purpose of this review was to examine the effects of educational interventions to reduce stigmatization and improve awareness of mental health problems among young people. An electronic search using MEDLINE, PsycINFO and Academic Search Complete was carried out for studies that evaluated the effectiveness of educational interventions. Forty eligible studies were identified. There were three types of educational interventions (Educational condition, Video-based Contact condition and Contact condition). Eighteen of 23 studies reported significant improvements in knowledge, 27 of 34 studies yielded significant changes in attitudes towards people with mental illness. Significant effects in social distance were found in 16 of 20 studies. Two of five studies significantly improved young people's awareness of mental illness. However, six studies reported difficulties in maintaining improved knowledge, attitudes and social distance in young people. Furthermore, the majority of studies did not measure the actual behavioral change. From the comparison of the three types of educational interventions, direct contact with people with mental illness (Contact condition) seems to be key in reducing stigmatization, while the components of Education and Video-based contact conditions are still arguable. Despite the demonstration of the positive effects of each educational intervention, their long-term effects are still unclear. Further research needs to involve measuring actual behavioral change and performing a long-term follow up.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Attitude to Health*
  • Evaluation Studies as Topic
  • Health Education / methods*
  • Humans
  • Mental Disorders / psychology*
  • Psychological Distance
  • Stereotyping*
  • Young Adult