Article

Perceived Stigma and Help-Seeking Behavior: Longitudinal Evidence From the Healthy Minds Study

Department of Health Care Policy, Harvard Medical School, 180 Longwood Ave., Boston, MA 02115, USA.
Psychiatric services (Washington, D.C.) (Impact Factor: 1.99). 10/2009; 60(9):1254-6. DOI: 10.1176/appi.ps.60.9.1254
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Despite considerable policy interest in the association between perceived public stigmatization of mental illness and use of mental health services, limited empirical evidence, particularly from longitudinal data, documents this relationship. This study used longitudinal data to estimate the association between perceived public stigmatization and subsequent mental health care seeking.
A Web-based survey was used to collect data from a random sample of undergraduate and graduate students at a university at baseline and two years later (N=732). Logistic regression models assessed the association between students' perceived public stigma at baseline and measures of subsequent help seeking for mental health problems (perceived need for help and use of mental health services) at follow-up.
No significant associations were found between perceived public stigma and help-seeking behavior over the two-year period.
In this population of college students, perceived stigma did not appear to pose a substantial barrier to mental health care.

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    • "However, it is also possible that students may feel comfortable filling out an anonymous survey but still hesitate to discuss their symptoms with a live clinician over a virtual medium. This is a public health challenge that may be related to the stigma regarding psychiatric illnesses [37], the lack of insight into the need for help [38], or concerns about potential administrative sanctions, such as mandatory leave or dismissal from school [17]. "
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    • "However, they were more likely to endorse the helpfulness of a close friend for social phobia. These findings are contrary to the null findings from earlier studies which did not examine stigma-help seeking associations specifically for different disorders (Golberstein et al., 2009; Schomerus et al., 2009; Yap et al., 2011), suggesting that it may be informative to examine these associations separately for specific disorders. Overall, the current findings indicate that the associations between weak-notsick stigma and help seeking are similar for personally-held beliefs and those perceived in others: such beliefs seem to be a barrier to professional help seeking in young people. "
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