The Power of Narratives in Mental Health Promotion: Examining the SHARE Intervention in a Randomized Controlled Trial

  • 周碩, Shuo (PI)
  • Shapiro, Michael A. (CoI)
  • Mak, Winnie Wing-Sze (CoI)

Project: Research project

Project Details


University students in Hong Kong (HK) experience higher prevalence and severity of mental illness compared to young adults in other countries. This research investigates whether and how reading peers’ mental health recovery narratives enhances HK university students’ psychological well-being. While strong evidence supports the effectiveness of a narrative approach in clinical settings and health campaigns, understanding of how personal stories influence readers’ mental status is limited.

To fill this gap, a pilot study will collect mental health recovery stories from university students who struggled with and survived from depression or anxiety and use them as the story stimuli for the Stories for Hope And Resilience Empowerment (SHARE) intervention. Main Study 1 will refine the story stimuli, using an experiment to examine whether stories with an ongoing (vs. not ongoing) recovery goal and whether identifying with (vs. egocentrically projecting onto) the story character are more effective in promoting self-compassion, resilience, perceived social connectedness, and hope. In Main Study 2, we will integrate the optimal narrative strategies into the SHARE intervention and test its immediate and delayed effects on improving psychological well-being in a longitudinal randomized controlled trial.

Contribution to theory, the proposed research will provide insights on the mechanism and effects of using narratives for mental health promotion by integrating two paradigms—the narrative therapy paradigm in clinical psychology and the narrative persuasion paradigm in health communication. Contribution to method, this research investigates an innovative approach to promote mental health using narratives generated by people with lived mental health experience. These genuine stories in public health campaigns may be a cost-effective way to promote mental well-being. Contribution to clinical practices, our research is among the first attempts to contextualize the narrative approach in HK. This addresses the local mental health crisis and offers a unique cultural perspective on narrative impacts. Additionally, identifying the mechanism and effects of the narrative-based approach will inform and optimize the design of cost-effective and scalable mental health promotion interventions in the future.

Findings will pave the way for a future large-scale randomized trial of the SHARE intervention. The long-term goal is to develop an online inventory of evidence-based personal stories from multiple countries, in various modalities (e.g., audio/video, interactive storytelling, virtual reality), covering comprehensive mental health topics, and targeting different at-risk groups, serving as a critical social infrastructure that provides social and peer support to promote psychological well-being for those in need.
StatusNot started
Effective start/end date1/01/2531/12/27


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