Year of Award


Document Type

Dissertation - Campus Access Only

Degree Type

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Name

Clinical Psychology

Department or School/College

Department of Psychology

Committee Chair

Duncan G. Campbell

Commitee Members

Bryan Cochran, Jennifer Robohm, Cheryl VanDenburg, Annie Sondag


The University of Montana


Attitudes about seeking psychotherapy have improved over time, especially among American college students. At the same time, rates of mental illness and mental health concerns are increasing in this population, and treatment engagement remains low. Untreated mental health problems can exacerbate other health problems and hamper personal and professional productivity and satisfaction, making it a serious public health issue. In a college population, mental health concerns can also cause academic problems and interfere with student success and happiness. Although many colleges and universities have free or low-cost health and mental health care services, many students in need do not utilize them. In the interest of improved public health, reaching out to the struggling students who have not sought help should be a campus priority. The present study tested whether a literature-informed outreach intervention improved treatment-naive college studentsÆ (n = 156) treatment-related attitudes, increased their intentions to seek or recommend treatment, or increased their willingness either to seek the help they need, or to suggest such help to their friends over the course of an academic semester. This intervention focused on alleviating the most common fears about therapy reported by college samples, by providing information that treatment is effective, and by normalizing the act of seeking mental health treatment. The intervention improved attitudes about psychological treatment and readiness to seek psychological care in this sample. Results indicated that the intervention had a more marked effect on attitudes, self-stigma, intentions to seek care, and readiness to seek care among participants with higher levels of psychological symptoms. This simple intervention could be easily adapted for use on other campuses.

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