Mental health literacy, attitude towards help seeking, and help seeking behavior among African American students attending a historically black college and university
Ofuani, Chika Karon
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Literature suggests that mental illness and psychological distress may be higher among African American college students than for their counterparts. However, researchers have found that higher rates of distress does not translate into increased utilization of psychological services. A number of studies have sought to gain a deeper understanding of this phenomenon and have cited attitude towards help seeking as a major contributor to engaging in seeking treatment or not (Duncan & Johnson, 2007; Obasi & Leong, 2009; So, Dominicus, & Gilbert, 2005; Williams & Justice, 2010). Research also suggests cultural variables (Brown et al., 2010; Gloria, Hird, & Navarro, 2001; Obasi & Leong, 2009) such as self-stigma, cultural mistrust, and spirituality provides insight into the common finding that African Americans tend to possess negative attitudes towards help seeking. While attitude and cultural variables have been taken into consideration, researchers have yet to explore mental health literacy as a relevant component to help seeking behavior among African American college students. This study sought to examine the relationship among mental health literacy, attitude towards help seeking behavior, help seeking behavior, self-stigma, cultural mistrust, and intrinsic spirituality. Participants included 400 African American college students attending a historically black university. Results suggested self- stigma predicted attitude towards help seeking and help seeking behavior; and attitude towards help seeking mediated the relationship between self-stigma and help seeking behavior. These findings provide implications for outreach strategies and intervention on HBCU campuses. Future directions were discussed.