Honors Program


Date of this Version

Spring 4-15-2024

Document Type



VanHorn, A. (2024). Preparing First Responders: The Effects of the Hearing Distressing Voices Simulation on Mental Health Attitudes. Undergraduate Honors Thesis. University of Nebraska-Lincoln.


Copyright Abigail VanHorn 2024.


The rate at which interactions between individuals with mental illness and first responders result in injurious or fatal consequence provides justification for proper training to be developed. To address the present issue, this paper proposes a study to be conducted on the efficacy of the Hearing Distressing Voices simulation on improving mental health stigma and empathy levels in criminal justice students at the University of Nebraska Lincoln and Omaha campuses. By surveying a control and an experimental group pre- and post-participation in the simulation, we hope to establish the ability of the Hearing Distressing Voices simulation to prepare future first responders for interaction with individuals with mental illness.

Review of prior research indicates that participation in the simulation can have a significant impact on the empathy, social distance, fear, and avoidance levels and behaviors of participants when interacting with individuals with mental illness. Through simulation completion by criminal justice students leading to improved attitude and interaction outcomes, this study intends to develop on previous findings.