Changing student attitudes about mental health conditions: NAMI ending the silence.

One strategy for improvement of understanding and acceptance of mental health conditions is to provide mental health education for young people. National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Ending the Silence (ETS) is a presentation designed for this purpose. Because it is a widely used presentation, it is important to assess its effectiveness in achieving its goals of improving understanding. The primary purpose of this research was to evaluate the effectiveness of NAMI Ending the Silence. Students from 10 high schools in five areas of the United States were provided the NAMI ETS presentation while students from other classes at the same schools did not receive the presentation. Students completed a 12-item questionnaire about knowledge of mental health conditions, attitudes/social distance preferences, and help-seeking before, immediately after, and four to six weeks after the presentation. Significant positive change in overall scores and individual item scores occurred for students receiving the NAMI ETS presentation but not for students who did not receive the presentation. Improved scores were still apparent for the NAMI ETS students at follow-up but, again, not for students who did not receive the presentation. Results indicate that NAMI Ending the Silence is an effective mechanism for improving the knowledge and attitudes of high school students about mental health conditions. More broadly, research findings support the use of school-based mental health education as a way to reduce stigma and increase understanding. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2019 APA, all rights reserved)