Abstract

This project explores how mental health stigmatization influences communication apprehension and the willingness to communicate about mental illness. A total of 153 people completed an online survey regarding three variables. Perceived stigma and communication apprehension when communicating about their own mental health were found to be positively correlated. Perceived stigma and communication apprehension when communicating about someone else’s mental health was also found to be positively correlated. Communicating about one’s own mental illness lead to higher levels of communication apprehension compared to communicating about someone else’s mental illness. Communication apprehension when talking about one’s own mental health and willingness to communicate was found to be negatively correlated. Communication apprehension when talking about someone else’s mental health and willingness to communicate was also found to be negatively correlated. My study found significant relationships between the three variables. When talking about one’s own mental health, perceived stigma increases communication apprehension, which decreases the willingness to communicate. Thus, communication apprehension mediates the relationship between perceived stigma and willingness to communicate. Theoretical implications were explored using Communication Privacy Management theory, Stigma Management Communication theory, and Anxiety/Uncertainty Management theory. Practical implications included increasing social support, mental health literacy, and positive media influence.

Advisor

Anne Kerber

Committee Member

Deepa Oommen

Committee Member

Emily Boyd

Date of Degree

2021

Language

english

Document Type

Thesis

Degree

Master of Arts (MA)

Department

Communication Studies

College

Arts and Humanities

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Rights Statement

In Copyright