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The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine
Board On Behavioral Cognitive and Sensory Sciences
Board On Behavioral Cognitive and Sensory Sciences
Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education
Committee on the Science of Changing Behavioral Health Social Norms


The Committee on the Science of Changing Behavioral Health Social Norms will examine the evidence base for strategies to change social norms, beliefs, and attitudes related to mental and substance use disorders in order to support individuals to seek treatment and other supportive services; reduce discrimination, negative attitudes, and stereotyping; and improve public knowledge about behavioral health.

The Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality (CBHSQ) at SAMHSA will use the information and recommendations from the Consensus Committee for strategic planning in an ongoing program of research about social norms and communication. Beyond strategic research planning, the recommendations will help inform the SAMHSA Office of Communication’s efforts to improve social acceptance of people with mental and substance use disorders; expand understanding of the health, economic, and social impact of untreated behavioral health conditions; and increase the willingness of Americans to seek help for these issues; and to help Americans see behavioral health as a public health priority.

The committee will issue a final report with recommendations for addressing these concerns, presented to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Sponsors: The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation (ASPE) and Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)

Commissioned Papers

A series of papers was commissioned by the Committee on the Science of Changing Behavioral Health Social Norms in order to synthesize the evidence base on social norms, attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors toward persons with mental illness and substance use disorders. As much as possible, authors were asked to synthesize existing meta-analyses and reviews of the literature.

Please visit our commissioned paper archive for full details on these papers and to download a copy.

Past Meetings

November 6-7, 2014 — The open session was held on November 6 – Meeting Agenda 

March 18, 2015 – Workshop on Lessons Learned from Diverse Efforts to Change Social Norms. The workshop explored lessons learned from previous media, communication, and other types of campaigns to change attitudes and behaviors in public health or other arenas. ► AgendaWebcast

March 19, 2015 – Committee Meeting, Open Session: 9:00 - 10:45 am ► Agenda 

April 15, 2015 – Workshop on Opportunities and Strategies to Promote Behavior Change in Behavioral Health. The workshop examined the role of intermediate and mediating variables that influence treatment seeking behaviors and access to care, including socio-economic barriers, social networks and institutions, and cultures, including which social norms, beliefs and attitudes are most amenable to positive change; and strategies for outcome research and evaluation. 
► Agenda ► Webcast



David H. Wegman (Chair), Emeritus, Department of Work and Environment, University of Massachusetts, Lowell
Beth Angell, School of Social Work, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey
Joseph N. Capella, University of Pennsylvania
Patrick W. Corrigan, Illinois Institute of Technology
William L. Holzemer, School of Nursing, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey
Clarence E. Jordan, Beacon Health Options, Norfolk, VA
Annie Lang, Indiana University
Bernice A. Pescosolido, Department of Sociology, Indiana State University
Ruth Shim, Department of Psychiatry, Lenox Hill Hospital, New York, NY
Rebecca Palpant Shimkets, The Rosalynn Carter Fellowships for Mental Health Journalism, Atlanta, GA
Eric R. Wright, Georgia State University


Lisa M. Vandemark, Study Director
Jeanne Rivard, Senior Program Officer
Vanessa Lazar, Research Associate
Renée L. Wilson Gaines, Senior Program Assistant

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