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England's Time To Change (TTC) social marketing campaign emphasised social contact between people with and without mental health problems to reduce stigma and discrimination.
We aimed to assess the effectiveness of the mass media component and also that of the mass social contact events.
Online interviews were performed before and after each burst of mass media social marketing to evaluate changes in knowledge, attitudes and behaviour and associations between campaign awareness and outcomes. Participants at social contact events were asked about the occurrence and quality of contact, attitudes, readiness to discuss mental health and intended behaviour towards people with mental health problems.
Prompted campaign awareness was 38-64%. A longitudinal improvement was noted for one intended behaviour item but not for knowledge or attitudes. Campaign awareness was positively associated with greater knowledge (β = 0.80, 95% CI 0.52-1.08) and more favourable attitudes (commonality OR 1.37, 95% CI 1.10-1.70; dangerousness OR 1.41, 95% CI 1.22-1.63) and intended behaviour (β = 0.75, 95% CI 0.53-0.96). Social contact at events demonstrated a positive impact (M=2.68) v. no contact (M = 2.42) on perceived attitude change; t(211)= 3.30, P=0.001. Contact quality predicted more positive attitude change (r=0.33, P<0.01) and greater confidence to challenge stigma (r=0.38, P<0.01).
The favourable short-term consequences of the social marketing campaign suggest that social contact can be used by anti-stigma programmes to reduce stigma.
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