Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Clinical Psychology, PhD




Psychology Department

Faculty Advisor

Dr. Sarah Schwartz

Second Advisor

Dr. Jessica Graham-LoPresti

Third Advisor

Dr. Randi Schuster


Although an overwhelming number of adolescents in the U.S. experience significant psychological distress, the majority of these youth do not receive formal mental health services. Mental health stigma has been identified as a significant barrier to psychological help-seeking during adolescence, with treatment stigma (or the stigma associated with seeking formal psychological services) as the strongest predictor of help-seeking when compared to other types of mental health stigma. Given the long-term impacts of untreated psychological distress in adolescence, more research is needed to understand the influence of mental health stigma on help-seeking during this developmental stage. Furthermore, more research is needed to provide a fuller picture of how these constructs vary by race, gender, and age. The current study aims to: (1) investigate how personal treatment stigma, perceived parental treatment stigma, and perceived peer treatment stigma influence adolescent psychological help-seeking from both informal and formal sources of support; and (2) examine how personal treatment stigma, perceived parental treatment stigma, perceived peer treatment stigma, and help-seeking behavior vary based on race, gender, and age. Findings revealed that perceptions of treatment stigma, especially from parents, impact both personal treatment stigma and psychological help-seeking, and that personal treatment stigma mediates the relationship between perceived and personal treatment stigma. Results also revealed significant variations in psychological help-seeking behaviors and personal and perceived treatment stigma by race, gender, and age, adding nuance to our understanding of mental health stigma during this developmental period. More generally, results point to the ongoing importance of addressing not only personal treatment stigma, but also parental treatment stigma, in order to increase youth’s psychological help-seeking and allow for improved adolescent mental health.


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