Document Type


Publication Date



American Psychological Association


Mental illness stigma is a significant barrier to utilizing mental health services for young populations. Few studies have evaluated how specific stigma dimensions relate to help-seeking and recommendations among adolescents. We examined how the stigma dimensions of labeling, stereotypes, and separation/discrimination influenced self-reported help-seeking behaviors of adolescents and recommendations for hypothetical peers with a mental health problem. Longitudinal data (four assessments) from a study evaluating the effectiveness of three antistigma interventions (curriculum, contact, materials, vs. control) among adolescents were analyzed (n = 396). Help-seeking outcomes comprised services in formal (e.g., doctor), informal (e.g., friend), or school-based (e.g., school counselor) settings. Generalized estimating equations tested associations of labeling, stereotypes, and separation/discrimination on help-seeking for a personal problem and recommendations for vignette characters described as having bipolar depression or social anxiety disorder. Adolescents were more likely to make help-seeking recommendations for peers with mental health problems than they were to seek help for a problem of their own. Labeling was a strong predictor of self-reported help-seeking and recommendations. Mental health literacy, an indicator for low negative stereotypes, was related to increased recommendations but not self-reported help-seeking. Positive stigma action and awareness—high cognizance of stigma and how to engage in proactive behaviors toward treating and destigmatizing mental illness—increased help-seeking in formal and informal settings for oneself. Finally, separation/discrimination did not prevent self-reported help-seeking, but it did increase peer recommendations in certain settings. Stigma did not always influence or interfere with help-seeking in the same way when the help-seeker was oneself versus a peer.


© 2022, American Psychological Association. This manuscript is not the copy of record and may not exactly replicate the final, authoritative version of the article. Please do not copy or cite without authors’ permission. The final version of record is available via its DOI:



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.