Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science in Psychology



First Reader/Committee Chair

Chavez, David V.


Self-stigma of help-seeking (SSOHS) is a significant barrier for individuals that perceive a need to rely on mental health services for personal and emotional difficulties. SSOHS refers to the internalization of negative messages regarding help-seeking. Although help-seeking is primarily viewed as an adaptive coping mechanism, many individuals from underrepresented groups view it as a failure and threat to their identity, decreasing the likelihood that members of these groups would rely on help-seeking. Furthermore, many individuals from underrepresented groups are pressured to value independence, which can decrease their reliance on support seeking and increase the likelihood of health and educational disparities in the U.S. First-generation college students (FGCS) continue to represent a minority of college students in the U.S. but are being admitted into 4-year universities at higher rates than previously was the case. They also encounter a larger number of stigma-related barriers thought to interfere with their abilities to succeed in college. As a result, FGCS will report higher psychological distress than their later-generation peers. Simultaneously, they evidence lower mental health service use. Stigma barriers are well-researched in conjunction with help-seeking; however, there is less information available on facilitative factors that weaken this relationship. Thus, researchers in this study will examine the role of empowerment on the relationship between SSOHS and help-seeking attitudes. Participants will include first-generation college students attending a minority and FGCS serving institution. FGCS are iv defined as students that have parents, or guardians, that did not obtain a postsecondary degree. Participants completed the study online through the SONA Research Management Database. Pearson product-moment correlations were conducted to determine whether self-stigma of help-seeking was significantly correlated with help-seeking attitudes Additionally, relationships between other variables of interest were explored. A moderation analysis using PROCESS in SPSS was used to examine the role of empowerment on the relationship between SSOHS and help-seeking attitudes. It was hypothesized that empowerment would significantly moderate the relationship between SSOHS and help-seeking attitudes. Results did not support the hypothesis. Specifically, empowerment did not moderate the relationship between SSOHS and help-seeking attitudes. Findings highlighted the need to examine the effects of empowerment-based stigma reduction programs that target help-seeking in college students. Additionally, results highlighted the need to study facilitative factors and barriers to help-seeking in college students.