- Correlates of Psychotherapy Use Among Ethnically Diverse College Students
College student mental health is a public health concern. Mental health disorders that are diagnosed early in life have been found to predict educational attainment, employment and productivity, and interpersonal relationships (Byrd & McKinney, 2012; Eisenberg, Speer, & Hunt, 2012; Hunt & Eisenberg, 2010). Mental health issues among college students are usually related to adjustment and developmental challenges. Throughout the years, mental health problems in college students have grown in complexity and severity. The literature and news media have reported several incidents related to mental health issues among college students that have led to tragic events (e.g., Castillo & Schwartz, 2013; Hunt & Eisenberg, 2010). Furthermore, the National Survey of Counseling Center Directors indicated that in the past decade there has been an increase in the number of students with more severe psychological problems such as substance-use disorders, problems associated with sexual assault, and self-injury (Castillo & Schwartz, 2013). Therefore, it is important that we continue to understand variables that contribute to psychotherapy use among college students.
Scholars of mental health literature have noted that college students are among those who underutilize services when necessary (Cheng, Kwan, & Sevig, 2013; Joyce, Ross, Vander Wal, & Austin, 2009). Correlates of psychotherapy use include help-seeking attitudes (Corrigan, Morris, Michaels, Rafacz, & Rüsch, 2012), mental health stigma (Cheng et al., 2013; Corrigan, Watson, Warpinski, & Gracia, 2004), and psychological distress (Arria et al., 2011; Downs & Eisenberg, 2012). In addition, some authors have highlighted the importance of intersecting identities on mental health services use (e.g., Castillo & Schwartz, 2013; Donovan et al., 2013). Given the increasing diversity on college campuses, attention needs to be given to better understand the variables that impact the use of psychological services among college students from diverse backgrounds.
According to Marsh and Wilcoxon (2015), data indicate that anywhere from 30% to 45% of college students in nonclinical samples report some form of mental health problem. Factors that impact college students’ mental health may include coping with educational demands, academic self-confidence, and forming new social relationships (Watkins, Hunt, & Eisenberg, 2011). Furthermore, research notes that some individuals report not completing college as a result of early onset mental health issues (Marsh & Wilcoxon, 2015). Given the impact of mental health on an individual’s functioning and the potential negative impact on the success of college students, it is imperative [End Page 300] that we better understand this lack of service use among this population.
Scholars have reported that levels of psychological distress or symptomatology predict help-seeking behaviors (Cepeda-Benito & Short, 1998). However, some researchers have reported that although students may experience mental health issues that interfere with their functioning, few seek treatment (e.g., Castillo & Schwartz, 2013; Conley, Travers, & Bryant, 2013). Some note that college counseling centers’ primary function is to provide direct counseling and interventions to students whose personal problems interfere with their ability to be successful in college course work (Marsh & Wilcoxon, 2015). However, if students do not utilize the services, they are unable to reap the benefit of the services to help them be successful in college.
In examining the mental health literature among college students, numerous studies have identified person-related and system-related barriers (e.g., Arria et al., 2011; Castillo & Schwartz, 2013; Marsh & Wilcoxon, 2015) that predict help seeking. Consistent with the mental health literature, studies with college students indicate that negative attitudes and perceptions decrease the likelihood of seeking psychotherapy (Marsh & Wilcoxon, 2015; Martin, 2010). In addition, Czyz, Horwitz, Eisenberg, Kramer, and King (2013) conducted a qualitative study among college students to examine the use of psychological services on campus. Findings indicated that students reported that having a lack of time and feeling that their depression symptoms were minor were the primary reasons for not seeking treatment. Other researchers have also reported that system barriers such as lack of awareness about the availability of services on campus impact the likelihood of college students seeking mental health services (Marsh & Wilcoxon, 2015).
Numerous scholars have found that demographic variables influence help seeking (McLean, Asnaani, Litz, & Hofmann, 2011; Vogel, Heimerdinger-Edwards, Hammer, & Hubbard, 2011; Vogel...