Understanding help-seeking amongst university students: the role of group identity, stigma, and exposure to suicide and help-seeking

  • Kearns M
  • Muldoon O
  • Msetfi R
  • et al.
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Abstract

BACKGROUND: Despite a high prevalence of suicide ideation and mental health issues amongst university students, the stigma of help-seeking remains a barrier to those who are in real need of professional support. Social identity theory states that help received from an ingroup source is more welcome and less threatening to one's identity than that from a source perceived as outgroup. Therefore, we hypothesized that students' stigma toward seeking help from their university mental health service would differ based on the strength of their identification with the university. METHOD: An online survey including measures of stigma of suicide, group identification, experience with help-seeking and exposure to suicide was administered to Irish university students (N = 493). RESULTS: Group identification was a significant predictor of help-seeking attitudes after controlling for already known predictors. Contrary to our expectations, those who identified more strongly with their university demonstrated a higher stigma of seeking help from their university mental health service. CONCLUSIONS: RESULTS are discussed in relation to self-categorization theory and the concept of normative fit. Practical implications for mental health service provision in universities are also addressed, specifically the need for a range of different mental health services both on and off-campus.

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APA

Kearns, M., Muldoon, O. T., Msetfi, R. M., & Surgenor, P. W. G. (2015). Understanding help-seeking amongst university students: the role of group identity, stigma, and exposure to suicide and help-seeking. Frontiers in Psychology, 6. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2015.01462

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