Honest, Open, Proud for adolescents with mental illness: pilot randomized controlled trial.

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Due to public stigma or self-stigma and shame, many adolescents with mental illness (MI) struggle with the decision whether to disclose their MI to others. Both disclosure and nondisclosure are associated with risks and benefits. Honest, Open, Proud (HOP) is a peer-led group program that supports participants with disclosure decisions in order to reduce stigma's impact. Previously, HOP had only been evaluated among adults with MI.


This two-arm pilot randomized controlled trial included 98 adolescents with MI. Participants were randomly assigned to HOP and treatment as usual (TAU) or to TAU alone. Outcomes were assessed pre (T0/baseline), post (T1/after the HOP program), and at 3-week follow-up (T2/6 weeks after T0). Primary endpoints were stigma stress at T1 and quality of life at T2. Secondary outcomes included self-stigma, disclosure-related distress, empowerment, help-seeking intentions, recovery, and depressive symptoms. The trial is registered on ClinicalTrials (NCT02751229; http://www.clinicaltrials.gov).


Compared to TAU, adolescents in the HOP program showed significantly reduced stigma stress at T1 (d = .92, p < .001) and increased quality of life at T2 (d = .60, p = .004). In a longitudinal mediation model, the latter effect was fully mediated by stigma stress reduction at T1. HOP further showed significant positive effects on self-stigma, disclosure-related distress, secrecy, help-seeking intentions, attitudes to disclosure, recovery, and depressive symptoms. Effects at T1 remained stable or improved further at follow-up. In a limited economic evaluation HOP was cost-efficient in relation to gains in quality of life.


As HOP is a compact three-session program and showed positive effects on stigma and disclosure variables as well as on symptoms and quality of life, it could help to reduce stigma's negative impact among adolescents with MI.

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