Date of Award

5-1-2017

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Department

Health Education

First Advisor

Buila, Sarah

Abstract

With the rise of the global market economy, higher education is a necessity for many students from the United States and around the world. Mental health is an important aspect of student’s health and well-being. The purpose of this study was to examine mental health, especially psychological distress, help-seeking behaviors, and the influence of stigma on help-seeking behaviors among international and US students. The study utilized a descriptive, cross-sectional research design. Existing instruments: General Health Questionnaire (GHQ-12), General Help-seeking Questionnaire (GHSQ), and Self-Stigma of Seeking Help Scale (SSOSH) were adapted, and a demographic survey was developed for the study. The study used a non-random convenience sampling method. The sample (N = 752) consisted of international and the US students that were selected from the College of Liberal Arts, the College of Engineering, the College of Science, the College of Education and Human Services, the College of Agriculture, the College of Business, and the College of Applied Science and Arts. The survey was self-administered during the spring of 2016. The results found no significant differences with the total scores of mental health status (GHQ-12), the total scores of help-seeking (GHSQ) behaviors, and self-stigma (SSOSH) among international and US students. There was a statistically significant difference with the mean scores of GHQ-12 between gender, race/ethnicity, and religion groups of US students only. There was a statistically significant difference with the mean scores of GHSQ for the race/ethnicity group for international students; whereas for US students, there was a statistically significant difference for both race/ethnicity and religion groups. Self-stigma was found to be predictive of help-seeking behavior among the US students, and explained a significant proportion of variance in help-seeking mean score. Overall, international and the US students indicated having no psychological distress, however, help-seeking was a problem due to stigma. Therefore, resources tailored toward students should be provided, so that they feel comfortable seeking help for mental health problems. Health educators and mental health professionals should provide education, prevention, and intervention programs on campus in order to reduce the incidence of mental health issues and the stigma associated with mental illness. Health promotion and prevention education activities that focus on reducing stigma will most likely increase help-seeking behaviors among college students.

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