Traumatic Stress, Mental Health Stigma, and Treatment-Seeking Attitudes among Chinese College Students

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Journal of College Student Psychotherapy




To date, research on traumatic stress and treatment-seeking behavior has primarily focused on Western populations. Despite experiencing similar levels of symptomatology, mental health service utilization appears lower among East Asian populations. Stigma toward mental health services may be one barrier to treatment-seeking, especially among individuals who have experienced potentially traumatic events; however, previous research has been primarily conducted in the United States. Less is known about predictors of treatment-seeking attitudes among populations residing in East Asia, particularly college students. The present study examined the relationship between trauma, mental health services stigma, and treatment-seeking attitudes among undergraduate students in Southwestern China. Self-report measures of trauma exposure, posttraumatic stress disorder symptomatology, mental health services stigma, and treatment-seeking attitudes were administered. We hypothesized that students with greater severity of traumatic symptoms would endorse more positive attitudes toward treatment-seeking if they reported lower levels of mental health services stigma. Mental health services stigma was a strong predictor of negative attitudes toward treatment-seeking, whereas neither trauma exposure nor traumatic symptomatology were associated with treatment-seeking attitudes. The significant association between mental health services stigma and treatment-seeking attitudes underscores the importance of destigmatizing mental health to encourage treatment-seeking among the Chinese college student population.


Chinese college students, mental health stigma, PTSD, trauma, treatment-seeking