Date of Award

Summer 8-2020

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Forensic Mental Health Counseling



First Advisor or Mentor

Philip T. Yanos

Second Reader

Peggilee Wupperman

Third Advisor

Shanah Segal


Research indicates that media can have both negative and positive impacts on mental health stigma and self-stigma. No studies, to our knowledge, have examined the impact of audio media representation (podcasts) on mental health stigma. Our study therefore examines the effects that both positive and negative portrayals of mental illness in a news podcast would have on mental health stigma. We hypothesized that participants assigned to podcast conditions that primed for mental illness would lead participants to attribute an incident to mental illness. Additionally, we hypothesized that listening to a podcast that speaks negatively about individuals with mental illnesses would be correlated with an increase in mental health stigma. Similarly, we hypothesized that listening to a news podcast that speaks positively about individuals with mental illnesses would be associated with a decrease in mental health stigma among participants. Undergraduate students (n = 169) were randomly assigned to one of four podcast conditions. Each condition had identical scripts describing a store robbery, manipulating if mental illness was disclosed and if it was the robber or the Good Samaritan that had the mental illness. Study findings strongly support the first hypothesis, that placing participants in a podcast condition that primed for mental illness leads participants to attribute the incident to mental illness. We did not find a significant relationship between podcast conditions and an increase or decrease in self-reported mental health stigma or self-stigma. Limitations of the study are addressed and authors conclude that additional research using audio interventions is needed to better understand its effect on mental health stigma.



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