Title

Occupations as vehicle for social change: Assessment of a multi-faceted intervention to reduce stigma towards mental illness

Location

Merritt Room

Start Time

3-10-2015 1:00 PM

End Time

3-10-2015 2:30 PM

Session Type

Research Paper

Abstract

Statement of purpose: Meaningful occupations are often utilized to initiate or advance social movements that address a social concern. For instance: many 5k or 10k runs are conducted on daily basis across the globe to raise funds and awareness for a broad range of health issues. Social media has also been used for similar purposes. However, insufficient evidence within occupational science literature exists that evaluates impact of such engagement in occupations on tangible outcomes of social change of desire. This study, conducted by an interdisciplinary team of students from Occupational Science, Social Work, and Public Health, engaged college students in a photography campaign on social media to reduce perceived public stigma towards mental illness (MI). Perceived public stigma can be conceptualized as an individual’s perception of public devaluation and discrimination towards MI. Perceived public stigma is known to negatively impact service utilization among those who need services. Based on existing evidence, we hypothesized that creating a community-focused, visual-based, and multi-faceted intervention can help decrease perceived public stigma and increase service utilization among college students

Methods: The project was implemented at a university in a Southeastern state and was approved by the relevant Institution Review Board. During late 2014, between September 12th and October 11th, we advertised and conducted a photography campaign in which participants (i.e. students / stakeholders/leaders/faculty) held signs showing their support for people experiencing mental illness. Participants engaged through voluntary participation using online social media and through booths around campus. Besides photography campaign, we also held education sessions and a panel with expert speakers to raise awareness regarding mental illness during the same time. Administrative data from student health services was collected to analyze the influence of the intervention on service utilization among students. We also conducted pre- and post-intervention surveys with more than 300 students, chosen randomly through university database, across 3 time-points. Data were analyzed using statistical tests including Pearson correlation, T-tests, and regression analyses.

Results: Preliminary analysis showed that healthcare service utilization before and after the intervention period was significantly less as compared to during the intervention (t(1.5) =-4.39, p=0.024). Survey data are currently under analysis.

Discussion/Implications: Sociological examination of social movements has added immense evidence pertaining to their initiation, organization, and consequences. However, at the heart of social movements lie meaningful occupations for those who engage in them. This study highlights community-based organization of such occupations and their influence on desired outcomes. Also, visual methods have been used in occupational science literature to highlight lived experience of minority populations. However, data from this study highlights employment of visual methods to motivate positive social change by engaging community members at large. Occupational scientists can use multi-faceted data sources and interventions, hinged on everyday meaningful occupations, to translate utility of occupations in addressing social concerns. Such evidence can further our understanding of occupation as a construct while addressing issues of social justice, which is a major thread in contemporary occupational science discourse.

Author’s objective for the discussion period: Illustrate utility of occupations in initiating or supporting social change.

Key words (3): Stigma; Social change; Visual media

References

Corrigan, P. (2004). How stigma interferes with mental health care. American Psychologist 59, 614–625.

Corrigan, P. W., Morris, S. B., Michaels, P. J., Rafacz, J. D., & Rüsch, N. (2012). Challenging the public stigma of mental illness: a meta-analysis of outcome studies. Psychiatric Services, 63(10), 963-973.

Eisenberg, D., Downs, M. F., Golberstein, E., & Zivin, K. (2009). Stigma and help seeking for mental health among college students. Medical Care Research and Review, 66(5), 522-541.

Fox, J., & Quinn, S. (2012). The meaning of social activism to older adults in Ireland. Journal of Occupational Science, 19(4), 358-370.

Hartman, L. R., Mandich, A., Magalhães, L., & Orchard, T. (2011). How do we ‘see’occupations? An examination of visual research methodologies in the study of human occupation. Journal of Occupational Science, 18(4), 292-305.

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Oct 3rd, 1:00 PM Oct 3rd, 2:30 PM

Occupations as vehicle for social change: Assessment of a multi-faceted intervention to reduce stigma towards mental illness

Merritt Room

Statement of purpose: Meaningful occupations are often utilized to initiate or advance social movements that address a social concern. For instance: many 5k or 10k runs are conducted on daily basis across the globe to raise funds and awareness for a broad range of health issues. Social media has also been used for similar purposes. However, insufficient evidence within occupational science literature exists that evaluates impact of such engagement in occupations on tangible outcomes of social change of desire. This study, conducted by an interdisciplinary team of students from Occupational Science, Social Work, and Public Health, engaged college students in a photography campaign on social media to reduce perceived public stigma towards mental illness (MI). Perceived public stigma can be conceptualized as an individual’s perception of public devaluation and discrimination towards MI. Perceived public stigma is known to negatively impact service utilization among those who need services. Based on existing evidence, we hypothesized that creating a community-focused, visual-based, and multi-faceted intervention can help decrease perceived public stigma and increase service utilization among college students

Methods: The project was implemented at a university in a Southeastern state and was approved by the relevant Institution Review Board. During late 2014, between September 12th and October 11th, we advertised and conducted a photography campaign in which participants (i.e. students / stakeholders/leaders/faculty) held signs showing their support for people experiencing mental illness. Participants engaged through voluntary participation using online social media and through booths around campus. Besides photography campaign, we also held education sessions and a panel with expert speakers to raise awareness regarding mental illness during the same time. Administrative data from student health services was collected to analyze the influence of the intervention on service utilization among students. We also conducted pre- and post-intervention surveys with more than 300 students, chosen randomly through university database, across 3 time-points. Data were analyzed using statistical tests including Pearson correlation, T-tests, and regression analyses.

Results: Preliminary analysis showed that healthcare service utilization before and after the intervention period was significantly less as compared to during the intervention (t(1.5) =-4.39, p=0.024). Survey data are currently under analysis.

Discussion/Implications: Sociological examination of social movements has added immense evidence pertaining to their initiation, organization, and consequences. However, at the heart of social movements lie meaningful occupations for those who engage in them. This study highlights community-based organization of such occupations and their influence on desired outcomes. Also, visual methods have been used in occupational science literature to highlight lived experience of minority populations. However, data from this study highlights employment of visual methods to motivate positive social change by engaging community members at large. Occupational scientists can use multi-faceted data sources and interventions, hinged on everyday meaningful occupations, to translate utility of occupations in addressing social concerns. Such evidence can further our understanding of occupation as a construct while addressing issues of social justice, which is a major thread in contemporary occupational science discourse.

Author’s objective for the discussion period: Illustrate utility of occupations in initiating or supporting social change.

Key words (3): Stigma; Social change; Visual media