Date of Award

2014

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts in Psychology

Department

Psychology

First Advisor

Ellen Flannery-Schroeder

Abstract

Young adults and adolescents tend to be among the least likely to seek mental health services even when they may benefit from them. This is particularly concerning since most psychological disorders have the highest incidence during this period of development. Researchers have proposed a number of variables that may act as barriers to help seeking including attitudes toward seeking mental health services, mental health literacy, and symptoms of psychological distress. However, much of this research has focused only on correlations among attitudes, symptoms, and help seeking intentions. Furthermore, the assessment of readiness to seek mental health services has been inconsistent across studies. The present study has extended this line of research by including mental health literacy in the analyses as well as applying the transtheoretical model framework to readiness to seek mental health services prior to beginning treatment. 363 undergraduates completed online surveys which included demographic information as well as measures of psychological symptoms, mental health literacy, attitudes toward seeking mental health services, and stage of readiness to seek mental health services. Results suggest that attitudes and symptoms of psychological distress significantly influence readiness to seek mental health services in this sample. This study highlights the need for research examining interventions for young adults that focus on changing attitudes and informing people about the effectiveness of psychological services in treating mental health issues. The need for additional research on mental health literacy is also discussed.

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