The Roles of Personality, Internalized Stigma, and Shame Proneness as Barriers to Mental Health Treatment
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The current study examined three key factors facilitating and/or inhibiting the use of mental health treatment among college students: personality traits, shame proneness, and internalized stigma. Participants were 101 students from a small New England college who completed questionnaires on internalized stigma, personality, shame proneness, negative attitudes towards treatment, anxiety, depression, and past and future treatment-seeking behaviors. Results revealed that among personality traits, lower Agreeableness and Conscientiousness were associated with greater negative attitudes surrounding treatment, while Extraversion and Neuroticism predicted greater willingness to seek future treatment if needed. As predicted, internalized stigma and negative attitudes towards treatment were inversely related to whether an individual had sought past treatment and one’s willingness to seek future treatment. Unexpectedly, shame proneness was only related to lower Extraversion, higher Neuroticism, and anxious and depressive symptoms. Among the mediational pathways analyzed, results demonstrated that negative attitudes partially mediated the relationship between internalized stigma and willingness to seek future treatment. Together, these findings help better inform researchers and practitioners on how to best encourage college student enrollment in mental health treatment according personal-level factors.
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