Is it okay to get help? An investigation into the stigma of mental health problems and the affect on seeking treatment

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Greene, Lynn
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BA (Hons) Counselling and Psychotherapy
Dublin Business School
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The term stigma has been synonymous with mental illness since before the first studies were carried out on the subject in the late 1940’s and 1950’s. This exploratory study seeks to discover the prevalence of stigma in relation to people with mental health problems and secondly, whether this has an effect on help-seeking. An online questionnaire was designed and distributed to a sample of the general public in order to establish public attitudes towards those suffering from mental ill-health and attitudes towards the seeking of help for such problems. The data that was gathered from 96 respondents who took part in this research suggests that although a tolerant and positive attitude in general towards those suffering from mental health problems now exists, when faced with hypothetical situations which would actually affect an individual in their day to day life, stigma was higher. And although attitudes towards seeking help for a mental health problem were extremely positive, when faced with the possible effects this seeking of help might have on the individual, attitudes were not as positive. Author keywords: stigma, public attitudes, mental health, counselling, help-seeking