Mental health services are under utilized in today’s society even when certain barriers are eliminated. The cost of therapy and lack of insurance is a large barrier keeping people from receiving help, but even on college campuses where counseling services are free, people still are not getting the help they need. This resistance towards mental health services is likely due to the stigma surrounding mental health disorders. This stigma is driven by two different forces, public stigma and self-stigma. People do not want to be viewed negatively by peers, and may even view themselves negatively for the need to seek mental health services. Both of these issues can cause a person’s mental health to continue to degrade if it causes additional stress and anxiety.
To better understand college student’s views on mental health and its stigma, surveys were analyzed from over 8,000 college students from across the United States. The survey included items asking about the participants’ view on mental health, experiences with mental health services, and depression/anxiety. They found three main groups formed from the results, people with low self-stigma and low public stigma (Group 1), people with moderate self-stigma and high public stigma (Group 2), and people with high self-stigma and high public stigma (Group 3). As one might think, those with low stigma in both categories were more likely to use mental health services (44.5%), followed by those with moderate and high stigmas (43.2%), then those with high stigmas (12.3%). These differences were correlated to gender and race and depressive symptoms. Asians and men were less likely to receive help and women and Caucasians were more likely to receive help.
There is an obvious problem with our society’s view on stigma and the problems it creates with people who have high self-stigma and high public stigma. Using this research, campaigns to inform society about the benefits of mental health services and reducing mental health stigma need to be enacted more heavily!
Check out the research:
Wu, I. H., Bathje, G. J., Kalibatseva, Z., Sung, D., Leong, F. T., & Collins-Eaglin, J. (2017). Stigma, mental health, and counseling service use: A person-centered approach to mental health stigma profiles. Psychological services, 14(4), 490.