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Community Ment Health J. 2017 Apr;53(3):257-265. doi: 10.1007/s10597-016-0016-4. Epub 2016 Jun 1.

Decreasing the Stigma of Mental Illness Through a Student-Nurse Mentoring Program: A Qualitative Study.

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Illinois Institute of Technology, 3424 S. State Street, Chicago, IL, 60616, USA.
Office of Consumer Affairs, Illinois Division of Mental Health, Chicago Read Mental Center, 4200 N Oak Park Ave, Chicago, IL, 60634, USA.
Northern Illinois University, 1240 Normal Rd., Dekalb, IL, 60115, USA.
Illinois Institute of Technology, 3424 S. State Street, Chicago, IL, 60616, USA.


Stigma is defined as endorsing prejudicial attitudes about mental illness leading to discriminatory behaviors. It undermines the quality of medical care received by people with mental illness. Research suggests contact based interventions are effective in reducing stigma and increasing positive attitudes towards people with mental illness. This paper describes the development of a consumer led student-nurse mentoring program as part of nursing student education. People with lived mental health experience would mentor student nurses regarding the harmful effects of stigma and the beneficial outcomes of affirming attitudes. Seventy members of stakeholder groups (people with lived mental health experience and student nurses) participated in focus groups. Qualitative analyses revealed themes across stakeholder groups regarding: perceived mental health stigma from nurses, ways to reduce stigma, target message for the mentorship program, characteristics of mentors and logistics in developing such a program within the student nurse curricula.


Contact based program; Discrimination; Mental illness; Nursing students; Stigma

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