Reducing psychiatric stigma and discrimination
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Background: Across the world there are programmes challenging negative stereotypes of people with mental health problems and associated discriminatory behaviours, but the evidence base describing what works in practice is still underdeveloped. This paper evaluates the effectiveness of a mental health training intervention with the police force in England. Method: A total of 109 police officers attended training workshops and completed pre- and post-questionnaires detailing knowledge, attitudes and behavioural interventions. Results: Mean attitude scores fell from 2.4 at baseline to 2.3 at follow-up (p < 0.0001) using a 5-point Likert scale. Five key message statements were assessed – 70 % of cases successfully reported more messages at follow-up as compared to baseline; however, the stereotype linking people with mental health problems with violent behaviour overall was not successfully challenged. Positive impacts on police work, particularly improvements in communication between officers and subjects, were reported by a third of cases. Conclusions: Short educational interventions can produce changes in participants' reported attitudes towards people with mental health problems, and can leave police officers feeling more informed and more confident to support people in mental distress.
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