Professors at Penn State Berks are helping spread SOS Berks message "Support Helps, Stigma Hurts." In an effort to reduce stigma associated with substance use among college students, they have blanketed the campus with posters, electronic bulletin board messages, and social media posts.
According to a recent BCTV web post, Dr. Jennifer Murphy, associate professor of criminal justice, and Dr. Brenda Russell, professor of applied psychology, have been working for the past year on a state grant-funded awareness campaign. Murphy learned of the grant through her participation in SOS Berks.
“Addiction is a brain disease but it still carries a lot of stigma,” explains Murphy. “Many people do not understand how addiction works; they see it as a moral flaw. We hope to educate students at Penn State Berks about the reality of addiction and how naloxone can save lives."
The campaign featured nine posters with various messages aimed at battling stigma. In addition to the messaging, Murphy and Russell organized a faculty seminar followed by a training on how to administer Narcan to reverse an opioid overdose.
Posters will be removed at the end of October. Murphy and Russell plan to judge the effectiveness of the campaign once it concludes by re-evaluating attitudes through a survey.