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Public mental health

Public Mental Health Research

​Public mental health is the science of improving population mental health and wellbeing, preventing the onset of mental illness and emotional stress and bolstering resilience. Adding a public mental health perspective on young people's mental health, we guide mental health related policies and define areas of need by monitoring mental health as well as its preventive and risk factors. Mental Health Dresden-Leipzig boasts wide and profound expertise in public mental health research, with the involvement of several nationally and internationally acclaimed institutions and departments, including the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research Leipzig (UFZ), the Robert Koch Institute (RKI), the Department of Medical Psychology and Medical Sociology als ULMC, the Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy at ULMC, the Institute of Social Medicine, Occupational Medicine and Public Health (ISAP) at the Medical Faculty in Leipzig, and the Institute for Medical Informatics, Statistics and Epidemiology (IMISE) at Leipzig University. These and other institutions have (and continue to) conducted numerous epidemiological studies which also pertain to mental health (e.g. KiGGS, DEGS1-MH, EVOLVE, AgeDifferent, AgeCoDe/AgeQualiDe, AgeMooDe, Leila75+, "Housing and Living in Leipzig-Grünau", German National Cohort, LIFE-Child, LIFE-adult), which provide a strong foundation for public mental health research. Leipzig also serves as model region to map and optimize local community mental health services for severe mental disorders within the LeiP#netz (Leipzig Psychiatry Network) initiative. The RKI is Germany's public health institute and RKI collects data on non-communicable diseases, infectious diseases and (new) biological dangers, determinants of health, health behaviour, and health outcomes. The RKI draws on epidemiological mental health data in the German population (e.g. KiGGS and DEGS1-MH) and develops policy recommendations and preventative strategies for the German government.


The stigma of mental illness

Stigma is associated with increased symptom burden and suicidality. Stigma and mental health-related knowledge and attitudes are key barriers to illness recognition and help-seeking. Developing and implementing interventions to reduce stigma and self-stigma, and to improve knowledge and mental health related attitudes will directly improve mental healthcare and mental wellbeing. Mental Health Dresden-Leipzig has prolific experience with methodologically innovative population studies on attitudes towards persons with mental illness, help-seeking and mental health literacy. The Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy at UL is home to the long-term time trend study ‘Evolution of public attitudes towards persons with mental illness’ (PI: Georg Schomerus). Starting in 1990, it now spans over 3 decades of cutting edge attitude research funded by grants from the BMBF, DFG and Fritz-Thyssen-Stiftung, offering a unique perspective on changes in public attitudes with regard to stigma, mental health literacy and help-seeking. Other ongoing projects pertaining to the stigma of mental illness include FairMediaSUCHT (development of journalism guidelines for stigma-free media reporting on (people with) substance use disorders, funded by the Federal Ministry of Health (BMG)), a study on the stigma of alcohol use disorder in comparison to other mental illnesses, StiPiCC (Mental Illness and Stigma in the Context of Prevalence-induced Concept Change) and a project on service utilization for mental illness that seeks to examine the potential for change of personal stigma and intermediary variables in the context of service use (funded by the DFG).

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