Date of Award

5-2014

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

College/School

College of Education and Human Services

Department/Program

Counseling and Educational Leadership

Thesis Sponsor/Dissertation Chair/Project Chair

Dana Heller Levitt

Committee Member

Les Kooyman

Committee Member

Gloria Pierce

Committee Member

Catherine Roland

Subject(s)

College students--Mental health, Stigma (Social psychology), Perception, Help-seeking behavior

Abstract

Despite being vulnerable to mental health problems, college students are a population that is especially influenced by perceptions of peer mental health stigmatization (Quinn, Wilson, MacIntyre, & Tinklin, 2009), a known barrier to seeking mental health services (Corrigan, 2004a; Komiya, Good, & Sherrod, 2000; Vogel, Wade, & Haake, 2006), and the greatest barrier to college students (Evans, et al., 2007; Hepworth & Paxton, 2007; Martin, 2010). This paper begins with a thorough discussion of the participant population—undergraduate college students, including well established theories of college student development, and developmental challenges and issues that are faced. Mental health stigma is also explored in detail, including specific types and its role as a barrier to help-seeking behaviors. There is a negative impact on mental health through perceived public stigma (Andrews, Issakidis, & Carter, 2001; Komiya, Good, & Sherrod, 2000), yet, the amount of public stigma may be overestimated through misperception, as estimates are considerably greater than one’s own personal stigma (Eisenberg et al., 2009). Also, higher levels of perceived public stigma have been associated with lower levels of help-seeking (Eisenberg et al., 2009). This study gained a better understanding of the relationships and predictions between perceived and personal stigmas and helpseeking attitudes and intentions. Furthermore, this study accounted for the variable of social desirability in such relationships, as prior research has not. This paper presents justifications and discusses the specific methods used for the current study, as well as the findings. Finally, implications for clinical and educational use are presented along with implications for future research.

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