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Measuring attitudes about mental illness


Vancouver, BC – Can a documentary shape attitudes about mental illness? A Vancouver researcher is trying to find out.

The Living in HOpe Research Study is based on the documentary Living in HOpe.

Vancouver Coastal Health (VCH) granted Stranger Productions access to the Greta & Robert H.N. Ho Psychiatry and Education Centre (HOpe Centre) in North Vancouver where camera crews followed patients and health care providers for more than a year.

As filming wrapped up, Vancouver Coastal Health Research Institute and UBC Department of Psychiatry researcher Dr. Erin Michalak seized the opportunity to test the impact of the documentary on attitudes towards people with mental illness.

"As a scientist, I saw this as a golden opportunity to evaluate whether this made-for-TV documentary could shape or alter beliefs, even though it wasn't produced solely as a vehicle to convey health information," says Dr. Michalak.

120 people in Vancouver, North Vancouver and Victoria were invited to a special screening of Living in HOpe, Part 1: Another Day in Paradise. They were surveyed before the screening, immediately after and one month later. The study is expected to be published in early 2019.

Living in HOpe producer Melanie Wood believes the documentary offers a bold challenge to rethink how we perceive people living with mental illness. "By sharing stories of patients when they are at their most vulnerable, we better understand that people living with mental illness are just people, and they have a voice," says Melanie.

Living in HOpe airs on Knowledge Network (and streams on beginning November 6th. Watch the trailer here.

Vancouver Coastal Health is responsible for the delivery of $3.3 billion in community, hospital and residential care to more than one million people in communities including Richmond, Vancouver, the North Shore, Sunshine Coast, Sea to Sky corridor, Powell River, Bella Bella and Bella Coola. VCH also provides highly specialized care and services for people throughout BC, and is the province's hub of health care education and research. 

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