Impact of culture on stigma related to help-seeking behavior in college students
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Though many college students in the United States experience distress that could be ameliorated through counseling, not everyone is willing to seek help. Some estimates report that only 11% of those who have a diagnosable problem in a given year seek professional services (Vogel, Wade, & Hackler, 2007). This suggests that a barrier exists preventing individuals who could benefit from seeking help from doing so. Stigma is an umbrella term used to describe the negative social implications, such as those associated with mental illness, that serve as a barrier between student need and contact with services. The gravity of stigma was validated in the 1999 surgeon general's report on mental health that identified that the fear of stigma deterred individuals from being aware of their illness, seeking subsequent help, and remaining in treatment (http:// www.mentalhealthcommission.gov; Satcher, 1999). Stigma against help-seeking is a result of many different factors including, but not limited to, culture, societal influences, formal versus informal help-seeking, and gender norms. Understanding that it is not feasible to adequately address each of the previous factors, this report reviews stigma related to help-seeking across cultures and aims to discuss how different cultural values can influence an individual's willingness to seek formal help. Strategies for intervention and stigma reduction are also discussed.