Depression is the most common mental illness, affecting almost seven percent of Americans each year. Although mental illness treatment through professional psychological services has been proven to be effective, underutilization of these services is high. Underutilization of seeking help could lead to serious consequences, such as suicide. Suicide is the second leading cause of death among adolescents and young adults aged 15-34 years old and in 2013 the highest rates of suicide were among adults aged 45-64 years old. Stigma has been viewed as a barrier to seeking professional psychological help.

Two age groups were chosen for this research due to the high rates of suicide (18-34 years old and 45-64 years old). This study collected data from a random sample of students, staff and faculty from a Midwestern college to see if there was a relationship between stigma and help-seeking attitudes in younger (aged 18-34) and older (aged 45-64) participants. Emergent findings were a) 15-24% of participants reported thoughts of self-harm at one point in their life, b) participants with higher personal stigma had more negative attitudes towards seeking help, c) younger participants and participants less educated reported higher levels of public stigma and more negative attitudes towards seeking help, and d) male participants reported higher levels of public stigma.

Findings from this study suggest that there is a need for research to investigate and develop strategies to reduce stigma and improve help-seeking behaviors. Mental health promotion programs that target those younger, less educated, and male could prove to be helpful for health education specialists.


Amy S. Hedman

Committee Member

Judith Luebke

Committee Member

Joseph Visker

Date of Degree




Document Type



Master of Science (MS)


Health Science


Allied Health and Nursing

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License



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