Mental health stigma, while common, leads to harmful consequences. There is some evidence to show that education reduces stigma. The reduction, however, is short term and only observed in those who are relatively open and flexible with their beliefs. Emerging research suggests that variables such as empathy, perspective taking, and psychological flexibility may be key processes in stigma reduction. Relational Frame Theory (RFT) provides a framework for understanding the development of stigma, the role of inflexibility in maintenance of stigma, and how education that targets flexibility might facilitate reduction in stigma. Applications of RFT have resulted in the development of the Implicit Relational Assessment Procedure, a tool that can be applied for assessment of not only implicit stigmatizing attitudes, but also the flexibility with which they are held. The current study examined the impact of divergent educational experiences on mental health stigma using college students with various levels of formal education relevant to psychological difficulties both implicitly with self-report measures and explicitly with the IRAP. Also examined were empathy and psychological flexibility as moderators of the relationship between education and stigma. Data suggest that mental health bias is a function of education, but that didactic and experiential education may have differential effects. Increases in education and empathy factors were associated with reduced stigma measured explicitly; however, these variables did not correlate with the measure of implicit stigma. Additionally, when empathy moderated the relationship between education and implicit stigma, high levels of empathy were associated with increases in implicit stigma. Inconsistencies in results from implicit and explicit measures indicate a clear need for continued research in this area to more fully understand mental health stigma and to develop reduction interventions.
|Advisor:||Sandoz, Emily K.|
|Commitee:||Brown, Amy, Perkins, David R.|
|School:||University of Louisiana at Lafayette|
|School Location:||United States -- Louisiana|
|Source:||MAI 54/04M(E), Masters Abstracts International|
|Subjects:||Mental health, Social psychology, Clinical psychology|
|Keywords:||Mental health stigma, Relational frame theory|
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