Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Science



First Advisor

Chwalisz, Kathleen


This study investigated the relationship between public stigma, self-stigma, and help-seeking attitudes in a sample of undergraduate student-athletes. Student-athletes appear to be at increased risk for developing mental health issues compared to their non-athlete counterparts (Etzel et al., 2006). However, student-athletes appear to underutilize available mental health services for fear of being labeled as mentally ill as well as other factors (Pinkerton, Hinz, and Barrow, 1989). The purpose of the current study is to explore two facets of stigma as a potential explanation for negative attitudes toward help-seeking and thus the underutilization of these mental health services. Sixty-six student-athletes completed a 10-minute paper-pencil survey. The survey included measures of self-stigma, public stigma, help-seeking attitudes, demographic variables, and an open-ended question regarding barriers to help-seeking. Results indicated that self-stigma mediated the relationship between public stigma and help-seeking attitudes, which replicates the mediated model found in Vogel et al. (2007). Self-stigma appears to explain how negative stereotypes about those who seek help are internalized to form negative attitudes toward help-seeking for student-athletes. Further, student-athletes noted barriers to help-seeking such as lack of time or knowledge of resources as well as fear of being labeled as mentally ill. Implications for research and practice are delineated.




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