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This is an open-access article published by the Royal College of Psychiatrists and distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
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A cross-sectional study to ascertain levels of personal and perceived public mental illness stigma in a university student population and the association between the respective levels of stigma and help-seeking intention. An adaptation of the Discrimination-Devaluation scale was used.
A total of 735 students participated in the study (response rate 77%). There were higher mean perceived public stigma levels than personal stigma levels. Perceived public stigma was not significantly associated with future non-help-seeking intention (odds ratio (OR) = 0.871, P = 0.428). Personal stigma was significantly associated with a decreased likelihood of future help-seeking intention (OR = 1.44, P = 0.043). Being younger than 25, having no history of or treatment for mental illness and having no personal contact with someone with a history of mental illness were all associated with higher personal stigma levels.
This study indicates that personal stigma as distinct from perceived public stigma is a significant barrier to mental health utilisation for a student population and future stigma reduction campaigns could strategically focus on this.