Semester

Spring

Date of Graduation

2019

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Type

PhD

College

College of Physical Activity and Sport Sciences

Department

Sport and Exercise Psychology

Committee Chair

Jack Watson II

Committee Member

Sam Zizzi

Committee Member

Ed Etzel

Committee Member

Aaron Metzger

Abstract

Previous researchers have found several factors that act as barriers to college student-athletes seeking mental health services (López & Levy, 2013; Moore, 2017). One common factor throughout these studies is stigma, which is known to be associated with less favorable attitudes toward seeking help (Moreland et al., 2018). However, researchers have not explored how stigma and attitudes might influence intentions to seek counseling and actual help-seeking behaviors in student-athletes. Additionally, there is a dearth of research identifying the topics for which student-athletes are most willing to seek help. Therefore, the purposes of this study were to investigate predictors of mental health help-seeking as well as identify topics for which college student-athletes are most likely to seek help. The sample consisted of participants (N = 325) from three Division II and III universities. Findings indicated public stigma was significantly related to self-stigma, but social network stigma was not. Self-stigma was related to attitudes and attitudes were related to intentions. Using logistic regression analysis, self-stigma and attitudes were found to be significant predictors of help-seeking behavior. Specifically, both were associated with an increased likelihood of having sought mental health services in the past. Regarding help-seeking topics, drug problems, depression, and excessive alcohol use were the highest rated issues for which student-athletes were likely to seek help, whereas concerns about sexuality, difficulty with friends, and body image were rated the lowest. The results of this study can be used to help sport psychologists and other mental health staff develop programming that might lead to increased service use amongst collegiate student-athletes. Specifically, it appears that using a multifaceted approach to improving attitudes could have the most meaningful effect on encouraging service use.

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