Date of Award

Summer 5-2020

Degree Name

Master of Public Health (MPH)

Advisor(s)

Deanna Hoelscher, PhD, RD, LD, CNS, FISBNPA

Second Advisor

Eric Jones, PhD

Abstract

Depression and anxiety are the top two mental health issues frequently cited by university students. Furthermore, the majority of students fail to seek professional help and may not find treatment useful. Many studies do not address the multiple factors that inhibit help seeking behaviors. This study aims to examine the associations between mental health issues and specific sociodemographic factors that may predict which students find seeking mental health treatment useful and are likely to seek help for their mental health issues over two semesters. Data from this study can be used to help develop strategies that help students maximize the use of treatment options. Results show that students who self – report mental health conditions during the Fall 2018 and Spring 2019 semesters are not only less likely to see a need for treatment but also more likely to regret not seeking treatment. In addition, students across the two semesters are more likely to find treatment unhelpful and less likely to find treatment helpful. Associations varied across subpopulations of race/ethnicity, gender, and college year within each semester. Male students were both more likely to consider no need for help and less likely to find treatment helpful. Asian students had an increased odds of finding treatment options unhelpful. However, Asian students who indicated depression were more likely to find treatment options helpful ((joint OR = 2.32, p = 0.02, CI (1.30, 4.76)). Future research exploring these findings along with future recommendations in practice are also discussed. These include using behavioral models to increase help seeking along with using qualitative research to explore reasons underlying perceptions of treatment use.

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