Stigma Towards Mental Health Treatment Among College Students: A Test Of An Interactive Online Educational Intervention

ASU Author/Contributor (non-ASU co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Megan Blair Goetzl (Creator)
Appalachian State University (ASU )
Web Site:
Lisa Curtin

Abstract: Adolescents and young adults have low rates of help-seeking despite high prevalence rates of mental health problems. College students may not choose to seek help because of the negative stigmatizing attitudes associated with mental illness. Education about mental illness and treatment and contact with people with mental health problems may improve negative stigmatization. The purpose of this study was to test the impact of an online interactive education intervention that utilizes avatars who depict individuals suffering from mental health problems in the context of a college environment on reduction of stigmatizing attitudes toward mental illness and help-seeking. Sixty college student participants were randomly assigned to either an online interactive education intervention that provided information on mental health problems via virtual interactions with avatars or to an online interactive education intervention that provided information and simulated interactions concerning tobacco use among minors. Participants completed measures of mental health treatment-seeking stigma prior to and after completing one of the two online interactive education interventions. Among this sample, the mental health intervention reduced public stigma and improved attitudes toward seeking help while the control intervention related to increased self-stigma toward seeking help. These findings suggest that interactive programs regarding mental health on college campuses may reduce public stigmatizing attitudes and encourage help-seeking. Future studies should include longer-term follow-up assessments and should include assessments of behavior (e.g., help-seeking, referring for help).

Additional Information

Honors Project
Goetzl, M.B. (2015). "Stigma towards mental health treatment among college students: A test of an interactive online educational intervention." Unpublished Honors Thesis. Appalachian State University, Boone, NC.
Language: English
Date: 2015

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