Help seeking for mental health on college campuses: review of evidence and next steps for research and practice

Harv Rev Psychiatry. 2012 Jul-Aug;20(4):222-32. doi: 10.3109/10673229.2012.712839.


This article reviews what is known about help-seeking behavior for mental health problems in college populations and offers suggestions for the next steps that could be undertaken to improve knowledge and practice in this area. Our review suggests that traditional barriers, such as stigma, can only partially explain the high prevalence of untreated disorders. We discuss the conclusions and limitations of research on campus-based intervention strategies, including anti-stigma campaigns, screening programs, and gatekeeper trainings. In proposing new directions for research and practice, we consider insights from research on other health behaviors (e.g., diet and exercise) as well as innovative ideas from behavioral economics and cognitive psychology regarding behavior change.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Biomedical Research
  • Female
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Health Services Research
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mass Screening / organization & administration
  • Mental Disorders / diagnosis
  • Mental Disorders / psychology*
  • Mental Disorders / therapy*
  • Mental Health Services / organization & administration*
  • Mental Health Services / statistics & numerical data
  • Outcome and Process Assessment, Health Care
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care / psychology*
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care / statistics & numerical data
  • Referral and Consultation / organization & administration
  • Sex Factors
  • Student Health Services / organization & administration*
  • Student Health Services / statistics & numerical data
  • Students / psychology*
  • Students / statistics & numerical data
  • Suicidal Ideation
  • Suicide / psychology
  • Suicide / statistics & numerical data
  • Suicide Prevention
  • Utilization Review
  • Young Adult