University of Rhode Island; stigma; mental health; URI; stereotypes
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Today we find that college campuses are at the heart of the mental health crisis and we are seeing a rise in the number of students with a mental illness. Although universities often supply abundant help for mental illness, some students don’t seek it out. One reason for this is the fear of social stigma that surrounds this topic.
With the hopes of better understanding how stigma affects college students’ views of mental illness and help seeking, research has been conducted to determine what is preventing students from asking for help. Research suggests that most untreated mental illness is found in young adults between the ages of 18-29. Since this is the age range for college students, there is growing concern when considering the health and well being of students. Many colleges have the resources to help those with mental illness, however students underutilize these services due to social stigma that surrounds seeking help. Some perceived stereotypes surrounding people with mental illness include that they are violent, are unable to be successful, and incompetence. Evidence from research specifically shows that a major reason students don’t want to ask for help is due to the social stigma of having a mental illness or from obtaining treatment.
The current project researches the ways that stigma may influence attitudes about mental and physical illness, comfort with interacting with those who have symptoms of mental illness, and willingness to seek treatment for symptoms of mental illness among students at the University of Rhode Island (URI) Kingston campus. The goal of the current study is twofold; first, to learn how stigma effects students’ attitudes towards a fictional peer that might have a mental illness or a physical illness, and two, to see if these students themselves would seek out mental health help if they needed it. We have addressed this issue with undergraduate students that are currently enrolled at URI. The results will allow us to see how much and what kind of stigma is held, if students themselves will seek help if needed, and how we might be able to target stigma to help consider ways to minimize the negative impact of stigma on students getting appropriate treatment.