Background and objectives
Mental health literacy and stigma towards mentally ill people have hitherto mainly been studied in relation to depression and schizophrenia and in adult samples. The Swiss Youth Mental Health Literacy and Stigma Survey (SYMHLSS) was planned and carried out to address these gaps. The aims of this article are to (1) outline and reflect on the methodology of the SYMHLSS in order to build a sound methodological foundation for preparing and conducting similar future surveys; and (2) advance school-based survey methods more generally.
The Australian National Survey of Youth Mental Health Literacy and Stigma (telephone survey) served as basis for the Swiss survey. As in the Australian survey, vignettes describing a person with a mental disorder were the core element to which most subsequent survey questions referred. Five vignettes were used in the online-based Swiss survey that used a representative school-based sample of roughly 5000 students: (1) depression; (2) alcohol abuse; (3) depression and alcohol abuse combined; (4) schizophrenia, and (5) social anxiety disorder.
Results and conclusions
The current paper describes (1) the aims and research questions of the SYMHLSS against the backdrop of some essential research gaps in the field; (2) the rationale for selecting the particular vignettes mentioned above; (3) the adaption and development process of the SYMHLSS (including pilot testing); (4) the reasoning for using a school-based online survey with in situ guidance of research staff; (5) and methodological insights gained during data collection. The provided information might be used as guiding references for other researchers who aim to adapt and develop vignette-based surveys in the field of mental health literacy or stigmatizing attitudes or who are planning a school-based online survey with in situ presence of research staff.