Watching just 17 minutes of YouTubers talking about their struggles with mental health can drive down prejudice, research has suggested.

According to the University of Essex, prejudice toward mental health declined by 8 percent and intergroup anxiety declined by 11 percent among viewers.

In a study published in Scientific Reports, researchers investigated how parasocial relationships – the connections people feel towards YouTube creators – influence their behavior.

Hundreds of people participated in the study by watching videos of a woman who later revealed she had a borderline personality disorder (BPD) and discussed common misconceptions about her condition, according to the research.

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After only 17 minutes of watching her content, levels of explicit prejudice and intergroup anxiety decreased.

“This is an exciting piece of research which is vital considering the impact online content has on people’s lives,” said Dr. Shaaba Lotun who led the study.

A week later, a follow-up survey revealed that lower prejudice levels had been maintained and that around 10 percent of participants had taken additional actions to support mental health initiatives, such as fundraising.

“There are more than 2.5 billion active users on YouTube every month and it can have a huge impact on the global conversation. We wanted to see if a creator talking about their mental health disorder could positively impact the people watching them,” said Lotun.

“It seems this is the case, and signs that lower levels of prejudice have a long-term impact is an exciting avenue to explore,” she added.

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