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The Role of Stigma and Referral Source in Predicting College Student-Athletes’ Attitudes Toward Psychological Help-Seeking

Rachel S. Wahto, Joshua K. Swift, and Jason L. Whipple

The purposes of this study were to (a) examine the relationships between public stigma, self-stigma, and mental health help-seeking attitudes in college studentathletes, and (b) test whether referral source would have an impact on student-athletes’ willingness to seek mental health help. Participating college student-athletes (n = 43) completed an online survey including measures of stigma (public and self), attitudes, and willingness to seek mental health help. The results indicated that public stigma and self-stigma predicted a significant proportion of variance in attitudes (66%) above and beyond gender and treatment-use history. In addition, student-athletes were more willing to seek help when referred by a family member compared with a coach (d = 0.89), a teammate (d = 1.05), or oneself (d = 1.28). The results have important implications for helping student-athletes seek mental health help when there is a need.