The Psychological Mechanism of Stigmatizing Attitudes toward Help Seeking Behavior for Mental Health Problems

Document Type: Original Research


1 School of Public Administration, Huazhong University of Science & Technology, China

2 Institute of Human Resource Advancement, University of Colombo, Sri Lanka


Stigmatizing attitudes toward psychological help seeking is a significant obstacle for the people with mental health difficulties to obtain sufficient psychological help. Therefore, this paper examines the psychological mechanism of stigmatizing attitudes towards people with mental illness and help seeking performance. Data were gathered using already developed and validated scales with modifications. They are; mental Health Service Utilization Questions (MHSUQ), the Inventory of Attitudes toward Seeking Mental Health Services (IASMHS), Griffith’s public stigma sacle, Griffith’s self stigma scale, perceived need and utilization theory of mental health services, and General Help Seeking Questionnaire – Vignette Version (GHSQ-V). 600 students were interviewed from three state universities in Sri Lanka. The interviews were done based on three vignettes of young persons with a mental disorder consisting with statement show much they agree or not agree for each statement. Additionally, demographic information was collected. Data were analyzed using Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS 19) and AMOS 20 software. Outcomes suggest that public stigma, and self stigma make influence on help seeking behavior negatively whereas public stigma makes greater influences on help seeking behavior negatively than self-stigma. However, in all vignettes, ‘dangerous person’ is the most responded item in both public stigma and self-stigma. It was found that female students have more positive attitudes, intention and actual help seeking behavior that male students.  Further, results indicate that stigma reduction programs are more essential to effectively increase of help-seeking behavior among students. Results further suggest that policy makers to make interventions to change public attitudes towards mental illnesses rather than self-attitudes. 


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