Iowa State study finds self-stigma in mental health inquiries

The study included 370 students who were given the opportunity to learn about mental health and the university’s counseling services online.
The study included 370 students who were given the opportunity to learn about mental health and the university’s counseling services online. | File photo

Iowa State University graduate student and ISU Student Counseling Services clinical intern Daniel Lannin recently published a study on college students’ self-stigma about mental health issues, which can be a significant barrier to getting information or help.

“It’s not just the fear of seeing a counselor or therapist,” Lannin said. “It’s actually when people are sitting at home or on their phone. That stigma prevents them from even learning more information about depression or about counseling.”

Lannin’s study included 370 students who were given the opportunity to learn about mental health and the university’s counseling services online. Just 8.7 percent of participants clicked on a link to learn about mental health, while 9 percent clicked the link to learn about the school’s services.

“A lot of people with higher levels of stigma won’t even entertain the possibility of a stigma intervention because they see the intervention as going to therapy to be more open to therapy,” Lannin said. “It’s like telling someone who doesn’t like vegetables to eat some broccoli to get over it.”

Lannin is continuing his work by developing and testing different online interventions to address the issue, and a previous study of his showed that participants were more likely to accept information after writing a short essay on one of their personal values.

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