Nuttall, Rebecca (2019) “It’s the complete stigma behind it.” Exploring how and why mental health stigma impacts on disclosure and help-seeking behaviours: A thematic analysis. Masters thesis, University of Huddersfield.

Mental health illnesses are some of the most prevalent and most stigmatised illnesses in society today. The stigma associated with mental health has detrimental effects on many people and further research is necessary to deepen our understanding of how and why it has such a negative impact, especially in a student population where stressors and life changes can result in the first onset of symptoms for young people. The current study aimed to explore the topic of anxiety, looking specifically at disclosure and help-seeking behaviours. Twelve participants completed the GAD-7 and the Mini-SPIN and were then interviewed about their current and past experiences with anxiety, exploring who they had decided to disclose to, whether they had sought help, and whether they had experienced any barriers. Using guidelines for thematic analysis, the interviews were analysed, and three themes were identified: “Disclosure patterns”, “Social media impact on mental health disclosure”, and “Barriers to disclosure”. Findings from this analysis revealed that students do face barriers when it comes to mental health disclosure and help-seeking, especially stigma-related barriers, such as a fear of losing friends upon disclosure, being perceived or treated differently, and barriers due to self-stigma and institutional stigma (work and university). This research can offer potential improvements to university policies and counselling services, particularly when some barriers experienced are those within universities, i.e. a lack of knowledge and information offered about the services available and difficulty approaching services. This research also highlights possible ways stigma could be reduced and discusses strengths, limitations, and areas for future research.

FINAL THESIS - Nuttall.pdf - Accepted Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial No Derivatives.

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