Online Program

Coping with depression: College students' perceived barriers and preferences for formal and informal psychological help

Monday, November 2, 2015

Irina Melnic, MPH, Immigrant Health and Cancer Disparities Services, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, New York, NY
Andrew Hansen, DrPH, Jiann-Ping Hsu College of Public Health - Community Health Behavior and Education, Georgia Southern University, Statesboro, GA
Jeff Klibert, Ph.D., Department of Psychology, Georgia Southern University, Statesboro, GA
Hani Samawi, PhD, P.O.Box 8015, Jiann-Ping Hus College of Public Health, Georgia Southern University, Statesboro, GA
Introduction: Adults aged 18 to 25 years have the highest rates of depression (11.1%) in the US, and are least likely to receive treatment (SAMHSA, 2012). The purpose of this study was to identify perceived barriers to seeking depression counseling and explore preferred choices of help among college students.

Methods: College students (n=188) completed surveys assessing current and past depression, formal and informal help-seeking behavior, perceived barriers to seeking counseling, and most frequently utilized interventions. Descriptive statistics were calculated to assess depression prevalence, frequency of perceived barriers, and participation in depression interventions. Chi-square tests were performed to examine the relation between perceived depression and measured depression based on CESD-20 diagnostic criteria.

Results: Significantly more participants meeting depression diagnostic criteria reported never being depressed, χ2(2,N = 153)=14.418, (p<.01). Of these, 55.2% did not seek professional help. A majority of participants (74%) reported engaging in physical activity, spending time with friends (65%), family (61%), and learning relaxation (48%) to cope with depression. Based on mean scores, top barriers to seeking counseling were difficulty talking to someone they don’t know (2.56), motivating themselves (2.54), stigma (2.52), and being seen emotional (2.51).

Discussion: There is a need to develop screeners to identify students suffering from depression and increase self-awareness of depression. A better understanding of college students’ barriers to seeking psychological treatment may assist in designing interventions to decrease reluctance towards professional psychological help. Alternative choices of help that are most preferred by college students must be supported to ensure protective factors for depression.

Learning Areas:

Administer health education strategies, interventions and programs
Assessment of individual and community needs for health education
Other professions or practice related to public health
Planning of health education strategies, interventions, and programs

Learning Objectives:
Explain college students’ help-seeking behavior for depression. Describe college students’ preferences for formal and informal sources of psychological help. Identify college students’ perceived barriers to seeking professional. psychological help

Keyword(s): College Students, Depression

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am a second year graduate student of public health and a graduate assistant working with an assistant professor in the College of Public Health. My coursework has prepared me for research and work in the field of public health, and I have co-presented a poster at a previous APHA Conference.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.