The primary aim of this study was to investigate the applicability of an empirically-validated self-affirmation intervention, under conditions of social identity threat for mental illness, in comparison to a control intervention, on resilience, empowerment, self-esteem, hope, group identity, and self-stigma. Data were collected from Connecticut College undergraduate students who identified with having past or present difficulties with their mental health over three time points. Participants responded to four questions about their mental health history as a social identity threat induction prior to engaging in a randomly assigned intervention. They also self- assessed their levels of the primary outcomes using established resilience, stigma, empowerment, hope, self-esteem, and group identity questionnaires at baseline, post-intervention, and one week after the intervention. Repeated measures ANCOVA analyses examined whether there were statistically significant changes for those assigned to the affirmation intervention, when compared to the control condition, across time. Because of limited intervention effects, all participants were additionally considered together in backwards stepwise regression analyses examining self-stigma’s influence on resilience, empowerment, hope, group identity, and self- esteem over time. Intercorrelation results showed strong negative relationships between self- stigma and positively associated outcome constructs (e.g., resilience) at baseline. Results from the repeated measures ANOVAs showed weak trends for improvements over time in the control condition for certain aspects of resilience. Regression analyses revealed that initial self-stigma significantly predicted changes in group identity and aspects of resiliency over time. The limited benefit of self-affirmation intervention for emerging adults with mental health difficulties in the present study, as well as the unexpected therapeutic value of the “control” intervention, are areas of focus in the discussion. Findings highlighting the negative role of self-stigma support the need for further development and refinement of interventions to foster resilience for emerging adult populations living with a stigmatized identity linked to mental health difficulties. This thesis offers some insight into how well traditional social psychological interventions translate across domains and into clinical populations.
Manning, Robert, "Supporting Psychological Well-Being in Emerging Adults with Mental Illness: Effect of a Self-Affirmation Intervention on Resilience, Empowerment, and Self-Stigma" (2019). Psychology Honors Papers. 77.
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