The Role of Personality Traits and Barriers to Mental Health Treatment Seeking Among College Students

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Many college students experience a mental health problem yet do not seek treatment from a mental health professional. In the present study, we examined how perceived barriers (stigma perceptions, negative attitudes about treatment, and perceptions of practical barriers), as well as the Big Five personality traits, relate to treatment seeking among college students reporting a current mental health problem. The sample consisted of 261 college students, 115 of which reported experiencing a current problem. Results of a series of logistic regressions revealed that perceived stigma from others (OR = .32), self-stigma (OR = .29), negative attitudes about treatment (OR = .27), and practical barriers (OR = .34) were all associated with a lower likelihood of having sought treatment among students experiencing a problem. Of the five-factor model personality traits, only Neuroticism was associated with a higher likelihood of having sought treatment when experiencing a mental health problem (OR = 2.71). When we considered all significant predictors in a final stepwise conditional model, only self-stigma, practical barriers, and Neuroticism remained significant unique predictors. Implications for addressing barriers to treatment and encouraging treatment seeking among college students are discussed.

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