Objective: Despite considerable policy interest in the association between perceived public stigmatization of mental illness and use of mental health services, limited empirical evidence, particularly from longitudinal data, documents this relationship. This study used longitudinal data to estimate the association between perceived public stigmatization and subsequent mental health care seeking.
Methods: A Web-based survey was used to collect data from a random sample of undergraduate and graduate students at a university at baseline and two years later (N=732). Logistic regression models assessed the association between students' perceived public stigma at baseline and measures of subsequent help seeking for mental health problems (perceived need for help and use of mental health services) at follow-up.
Results: No significant associations were found between perceived public stigma and help-seeking behavior over the two-year period.
Conclusions: In this population of college students, perceived stigma did not appear to pose a substantial barrier to mental health care.