Master's Theses



Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Mental health and wellness are increasingly common and popular topics discussed and researched in the world today. Recent estimates suggest that one in five adults in the United States of America experience mental health issues each year; this is estimated to be approximately 51.5 million adults (NAMI, 2020). However, despite many individuals who might suffer from mental health issues, and perhaps be diagnosed with a mental health disorder, these same individuals may not seek out the help and psychological services needed. Research exploring why people do not seek out help for their mental health should be a priority. Thus, the current study examined factors that might influence a person’s willingness to seek out psychological help when needed. These factors included aspects relevant to mental health stigma (i.e., public and self-stigma of mental health), social-cognitive factors (i.e., attitudes, subjective norms, and perceived control), as well as individual differences (i.e., age and generational cohort affiliation). The Theory of Planned Behavior and relevant prior research were used as a theoretical guide. The current study included 355 participants between the ages of 18 and 75. Our results indicated that public and self-stigma did not overall predict participants’ willingness to seek treatment. However, our results showed that two of the social cognitive factors (subjective norms and perceived control) did predict willingness to seek treatment; whereas the remaining social cognitive factor, attitudes, did not predict willingness to seek treatment. The current study also analyzed these variables and their order of effect. The results from this analysis indicated that public and self-stigma indirectly impacted the willingness to seek help through the social cognitive factors of subjective norms and perceived control. This finding is important because it indicates that through this pathway, each of the variables does impact the willingness to seek help either directly or indirectly. Finally, our results also showed that the older participants of this sample, those who belong to the Baby Boomer generational cohort, were more willing to seek out psychological help than younger generations. Overall, findings of the current study support prior literature, as well as expand on the existing mental health concepts while also exploring new avenues of potential influence. This current study also helps to mend some existing gaps in prior literature and include areas that have not yet been examined together.


Dr. Whitney Whitaker

Date of Award

Fall 2021

Document Type



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