An Ecological Approach to Understanding the Stigma Associated with Receiving Mental Health Services: The Role of Social Proximity
Rodgers, Brandon Ellis
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Mental health services suffer the substantial limitation of helping only those who seek their assistance. Previous research has demonstrated that mental health stigma, including social and self-stigma, is one of the most significant barriers to an individual seeking available mental health services. Additionally, low levels of social proximity to mental illness may be a significant factor in increased social and self-stigma. Informed by ecological systems theory, this research examined demographic (i.e., gender, race/ethnicity, university) and social proximity factors (i.e., level of familiarity with mental illness and mental health services) that contributed to the mental health stigma associated with seeking mental health services within a university population. Web-based survey responses from 410 undergraduate students at two universities were obtained. A series of hierarchical multiple regression analyses revealed that while controlling for gender, race/ethnicity, and university, having personally received mental health services predicted lower levels of mental health self-stigma. Consistent with previous findings, a significant predictive quality of social stigma towards self-stigma was also found. However, none of the models utilizing social proximity factors to predict social stigma were significant. Implications for practice and future research are discussed.
- Doctoral Dissertations