Academic journal article Journal of Counseling and Development : JCD

Differences in Beliefs about Psychological Services in the Relationship between Sociorace and One's Social Network

Academic journal article Journal of Counseling and Development : JCD

Differences in Beliefs about Psychological Services in the Relationship between Sociorace and One's Social Network

Article excerpt

Understanding factors that affect the beliefs and behaviors of those who could benefit from psychological services (e.g., counseling, career, social work, and psychiatric services) continues to be an important area of research. It is widely noted that there is vast underutilization of these resources (e.g., Addis & Mahalik, 2003; Leong, Wagner, & Tata, 1995). When considering underutilization in the general public, Wang et al. (2005) found that it "is greatest in traditionally underserved groups, including elderly persons, racial-ethnic minorities, those with low incomes, those without insurance, and residents of rural areas" (p. 629). Yet, when one considers this underutilization on college campuses, some of these groupings seem irrelevant, especially because professional psychological services are often available free of charge to students. Furthermore, incoming students are commonly introduced to these services during orientation presentations, and campus-wide campaigns focus on destigmatizing use of this help. Other groupings, however, remain potentially quite relevant, such as being a member of a racial/ethnic minority (REM) group.

In the United States, the most recent survey of counseling center directors found that 10.4% of students used their services (Gallagher, n.d.). This percentage falls significantly below the percentage of students who are actively distressed. For example, data from U.S. college students in the fall semester of 2010 show that 28.4% endorsed feeling "so depressed that it was difficult to function" sometime in the past 12 months (American College Health Association, 2011), and Stallman and Shochet (2009) reported results that indicate increased stress levels in the second semester of an academic year, with a figure of 53% in an Australian college student sample.

Understanding the underlying mechanisms of underutilization is important in helping to promote both mental health and academic success. One of the fundamental goals in higher education is the development of human potential, not only for the individual but also in service of community needs. However, the development of human potential can be critically hindered by not maintaining mental health and not connecting with sources of support to promote health. Connor (2001) emphasized this point in stating, "Campuses are increasingly recognizing that mental health is a critical factor in students' academic success" (para. 5). With numerous attempts to understand students' beliefs about and use of formal psychological services, it is important to take into consideration not only the role of demographic variables but also the role of one's social network and previous use of these services. This study focuses on how beliefs about psychological services differ by sociorace (i.e., European American and REM groupings; see Helms & Richardson, 1997) and one's social network.

* Variables Associated With Help-Seeking Beliefs

Demographic Variables Associated With Help-Seeking Beliefs

Gender differences in help-seeking attitudes and behaviors are one of the most distinct research findings reported in this literature (Fischer & Farina, 1995; Fischer & Turner, 1970), with women holding more positive attitudes toward psychological help seeking. Research indicates that this finding also holds true for behavior; for example, women, across demographic variables, are more likely to seek professional psychological help (Addis & Mahalik, 2003). Leong and Zachar (1999) also cited extensive research that supports this finding both internationally and across racial/ethnic groups.

Studies have focused on understanding factors that influence psychological help-seeking attitudes and behaviors in

diverse racial/ethnic populations (e.g., Cruza-Guet, Spokane, Caskie, Brown, & Szapocznik, 2008; Gloria, Castellanos, Park, & Kim, 2008; Townes, Chavez-Korell, & Cunningham, 2009). …

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