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.
Villatoro, A.P., DuPont-Reyes, M.J., Phelan, J.C., & Link, B.G. (2022). ‘Me’ vs. ‘Them’: How mental illness stigma influences help-seeking referrals and personal behaviors among adolescents. Stigma and Health, 7(3), 300-310. https://dx.doi.org/10.1037/sah0000392