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College Students’ Perceptions of Barriers to Seeking Mental Health Services

1 January 2016


Students face a variety of stressors (e.g., academic, financial) that can function as precipitating factors for serious mental health concerns, but there is an under-utilization of services. Previous research has identified multiple barriers to help-seeking on campus, yet it is unclear what barriers are most relevant to students. This qualitative study included data from 32 students across four focus groups as they discussed mental health services. Participants completed an informed consent, confidentiality agreement, and a short questionnaire prior to the discussion. A semi- structured interview guide was used to assess perceived barriers to seeking out mental health services. Discussions were audiotaped and transcribed by members of the research team. An adapted form of grounded theory was used to identify emergent themes (e.g., open, axial, and selective coding). Results indicated that students perceive multiple barriers to seeking out services including social stigma, normalized stress as a student, and being unaware of the basic information. Results of this study will be utilized within the context of developing a psychoeducational campus media campaign.


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