The effectiveness of education and contact at decreasing stigma and increasing help seeking surrounding bipolar disorder

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Ladley, Andrea
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MSc in Applied Psychology
Dublin Business School
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The current study primarily investigates the effect of education and contact on stigma and help-seeking intentions surrounding bipolar disorder. A large body of research has identified education and contact as effective at decreasing mental health stigma, however research into their ability to decrease stigma and subsequently increase help-seeking surrounding bipolar disorder is limited. The study also aimed to determine whether attitudes predict help-seeking intentions, with past research identifying attitudes as important predictors of help-seeking. Three conditions (education n58, contact n50, control n57) were randomly assigned to n165 (male n74, female n91) participants who were members of the public recruited via a between groups true-experimental online survey design on social media platforms including Linked In, Facebook and Instagram. The study also incorporated a correlational aspect to determine if attitudes predict help-seeking. Two scale questionnaires, the Community Attitudes Towards Mental Illness and The General Help-Seeking Questionnaire assessed attitudes towards MI and help-seeking intentions respectively. Initial hypothesis suggested a decrease in stigma and increase in help-seeking intentions post conditions and that attitudes would predict help-seeking intentions. Findings demonstrated a non-significant decrease in stigma and increase in help-seeking intentions regardless of the condition applied and that attitudes did not predict help-seeking. The results of this study therefore refute general literature on mental health stigma that education and contact reduce stigma and that attitudes predict help-seeking. Future research should incorporate implicit measures of stigma and test interventions of a more educationally diverse population.