There is a rich literature on the nature of mental health-related stigma and the processes by which it severely affects the life chances of people with mental health problems. However, applying this knowledge to deliver and evaluate interventions to reduce discrimination and stigma in a lasting way is a complex and long-term challenge.
We conducted a narrative synthesis of systematic reviews published since 2012, and supplemented this with papers published subsequently as examples of more recent work.
There is evidence for small to moderate positive impacts of both mass media campaigns and interventions for target groups in terms of stigma-related knowledge, attitudes, and intended behaviour in terms of desire for contact. However, the limited evidence from longer follow-up times suggests that it is not clear whether short-term contact interventions have a lasting impact.
The risk that short-term interventions may only have a short-term impact suggests a need to study longer term interventions and to use interim process and outcome data to improve interventions along the way. There is scope for more thorough application of intergroup contact theory whenever contact is used and of evidence-based teaching and assessment methods when skills training is used for target groups.