Academic journal article Canadian Journal of Counselling and Psychotherapy (Online)

Exploring the Help-Seeking Attitudes of Graduate Students at an Off-Campus Site/Explorer Les Attitudes Des éTudiants Des Cycles Supérieurs Sollicitant le Counseling Dans Un Centre Hors-Campus

Academic journal article Canadian Journal of Counselling and Psychotherapy (Online)

Exploring the Help-Seeking Attitudes of Graduate Students at an Off-Campus Site/Explorer Les Attitudes Des éTudiants Des Cycles Supérieurs Sollicitant le Counseling Dans Un Centre Hors-Campus

Article excerpt

A recent trend in higher education is the establishment of off-campus centres., often designed for adult learners interested in advancing their education. Such centres are frequently located a considerable distance from the main campus, leading to challenges in how to best provide student services to these off-campus students. Tliough students enrolled in main campus programs possess relatively easy access to such, services, students at the satellite centres may not have them. at their site or may have to travel to the main campus to utilize them. One such service is access to professional counselling services, most frequently provided by a university counselling centre on the main campus. This study investigated the attitudes and predictors of professional help-seeking of students enrolled, in graduate programs at an off-campus professional centre.

In the counselling profession, the need to understand the help-seeking process is important, particularly in a time when significant demands exist for counselling services. In a U.S. national survey, Kessler et al. (1994) found that nearly 50% of respondents had at least one psychiatric disorder in their lifetime. Nearly 30% reported at least one disorder in the past year. They concluded, that such disorders were much more prevalent than previous research had found. However, what is also clear from, the literature is that many individuals who could benefit from professional counselling services fail to receive them. Kessler et al. found that, among participants with a disorder in the past 12 months, only one in five obtained any professional assistance in the past year. Furthermore, their findings regarding the low rates of help-seeking behaviours were "broadly consistent" with similar investigations that reflected "the vast majority of people with recent disorders have not had recent treatment" (p. 12),

More recently, Sareen, Cox, Afifi, Yu, and Stein (2005) found a 12-month helpseeking rate of 83% among Canadian residents seeking assistance for emotional symptoms. Another 0.6% of individuals indicated that they needed, but did not seek, mental health treatment. Among those who did utilize help, nearly 20% had at least 12 outpatient visits. The characteristics that were most strongly correlated to seeking help included (a) having an episode of major depression in the past year; (b) being female; (c) being widowed, separated, or divorced; (d) possessing at least two chronic physical health conditions; (e) having high rates of perceived, stress; (f) possessing a long-term disability arising from emotional or physical difficulties; and (g) being 30-49 years of age.

Despite these findings, a significant number of people who could, benefit from counselling services are not seeking such assistance. Corrigan (2004) offered a salient point: While the overall quality and effectiveness of treatments have vastly improved over the past 50 years, many people simply are choosing not to obtain, services or are not fully adhering to such regimens. One possible reason for these decisions is stigma, which can lead to labelling, stereotypes, prejudice, and discrimination that can damage ones self-esteem (Corrigan, 2004). A recent study of undergraduate and graduate students found, higher rates of perceived stigma among males, older students, Asian and Pacific Islanders, students from families with lower socioeconomic status, and students with current mental health problems (Golberstein, Eisenberg, & Gollust, 2008),

Similarly, Teachman, Wilson, and Komarovskaya (2006) found, that people with a history of mental health problems are more likely to harbour negative feelings toward mental illness than toward physical illness. The degree of stigma, however, may be decreasing: In a telephone survey among 650 Houston-area residents, only 5% indicated that mental illness was due to a character flaw, while 86% expressed, a belief that insurance companies should cover mental health issues as they do for physical illnesses (Klineberg, 2004). …

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