Attitudes and beliefs about treatment among college students with untreated mental health problems

Psychiatr Serv. 2012 Jul;63(7):711-3. doi: 10.1176/


Objective: This study estimated attitudes and beliefs about treatment in a national sample of college students with untreated mental health problems.

Methods: A retrospective analysis of the 2007 and 2009 Healthy Minds Study, an online survey of college students in the United States, was conducted. The random sample included 13,105 survey participants from 26 institutions. Students with untreated depression, anxiety, or suicidal ideation (N=2,350) were classified by attitudes about treatment (stigma), beliefs about effectiveness of treatment, and perceived need for treatment.

Results: A majority (65%) of untreated students reported low stigma and positive beliefs about treatment effectiveness, including 42% who perceived a need for help and 23% who did not.

Conclusions: For a large proportion of young people with untreated mental illness, attitudes and knowledge about mental illness may no longer be among the main barriers to help seeking. Research and practice need to consider new approaches for understanding and influencing help-seeking behavior.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Female
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mentally Ill Persons / psychology*
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care / psychology*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Stereotyping
  • Students / psychology*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Universities