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Year of Graduation


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Directing Professor

Dr. Caroline Mann


Extensive prior research has shown that individuals with a low self-concept clarity (SCC) are more susceptible to mental health problems, e.g., depression and anxiety, than individuals with a high SCC. However, prior research has not focused on help-seeking in conjunction with SCC. Therefore, an online survey was distributed to Hollins University students (N=111) to investigate the potential relationship between SCC and help-seeking behavior. A positive correlation between SCC and help-seeking was found. However, SCC did not predict helpseeking beyond psychological distress and stigma in the multiple regression equation. Stigma was further dissected into perceived public stigma, personal stigma, and perceived peer stigma. Previous research demonstrates that perceived public stigma is usually higher than personal stigma, and that personal stigma independently influences help-seeking behavior, but— despite prominent theories— public stigma does not. The current study altered the perceived stigma reference group (i.e from “public” to “peer group”) to investigate if that would change the associations with help-seeking behavior. Consistent with prior research, perceived public stigma continued to remain significantly higher than personal stigma and was not correlated with help-seeking behavior or personal stigma. However, both personal stigma and perceived peer stigma were negatively correlated with help-seeking and positively correlated with each other such that individuals high in personal and peer stigma were less willing to seek help. The results can provide insight for future mental health help-seeking intervention programs and stigma reduction campaigns.