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CWRU researcher studies ways to help teens overcome fears and stigmas of mental illness
Date:6/6/2011

When teens start experiencing changes in moods or emotions, they tend to fear sharing their blue days with their families and adults who can help them. As a consequence, they often suffer in silence.

Case Western Reserve University KL2 Clinical Research Scholar and Instructor Melissa Pinto-Foltz from the Frances Payne Bolton School of Nursing wants to find the magical elixir that helps teens speak up, seek help and then stick with treatments that get them feeling better.

"About one in five Americans has a mental illness, with half of these individuals first experiencing symptoms of mental illness in their teen years," she said.

Pinto-Foltz's research contributes to efforts nationwide to combat a public health issue, stigma and mental health literacy, made a priority in a U. S. Surgeon General's Report and the President's New Freedom Commission on Mental Health.

She found that a good way to reach teens to help them learn about mental illness and improve negative attitudes about mental illness was through their school.

She studied 156 girls in the 9th and 10th grade in a research project set in public high schools in Louisville, Ky. About half the group participated in a special national program called In Our Own Voice, offered by the National Alliance for Mental Illness, and the other half did not see the program.

More than 200,000 people across the U.S. have seen the In Our Own Voice program, which is frequently given in schools, churches and other community settings. The one-hour program involves learning through storytelling and changing attitudes through interacting with people who are in sustained recovery from mental illness. These individuals tell their personal stories of what it was like to first discover the illness and get through their recovery from the illness.

While the program is widely used across the U.S., no evidence exists that it is effective with teens, nor has the impact
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Contact: Susan Griffith
susan.griffith@case.edu
216-368-1004
Case Western Reserve University
Source:Eurekalert

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