Date on Master's Thesis/Doctoral Dissertation


Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph. D.

Department (Legacy)

Department of Educational and Counseling Psychology

Committee Chair

Cuyjet, Michael J.

Author's Keywords

Mental illness; Stigma; College students; Attitudes; Student affairs; Administrators


Student affairs administrators--Attitudes; College students--Mental health services


Calls for universities to better serve college students with mental illness have been growing. While a considerable literature base supports Corrigan's (2004) Social Cognitive Model of Mental Illness Stigma and the complex relationship among stereotypes, prejudice, and discrimination, limited research has been conducted examining university administrators on attitudes toward and knowledge of mental illness in college students. Participants of the current study were 206 entry-level student affairs professionals who completed an online, modified version of Becker, Martin, Wajeeh, Ward, and Shern's (2002) Mental Illness Awareness Survey. Simultaneous regression was used to determine the significance of seven demographic variables (gender, age, ethnicity, level of education, type of university, university enrollment size, and years of experience) on five dependent variables: fear towards students with mental illness, confidence in ability to help students with mental illness, awareness of campus services, referrals to campus services, and knowledge of psychological disabilities. None of the five regression models were significant, likely due to a restriction of range in several independent variables in the entry-level study population. Three independent variables were significant at the p < .01 level, including employment at a large university on fear, and years of experience and possession of a master's degree on awareness of campus services. Compared to faculty responses on the instrument in an earlier study (Becker et al., 2002), entry-level student affairs professionals demonstrated a trend towards more positive attitudes and knowledge. Findings suggest that administrators desire continued education on mental illness in college students, particularly on disorders including schizophrenia, personality disorders, and paranoia, as well as disorders more commonly seen and/or on the rise in college students such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, eating disorders, bipolar disorder, and posttraumatic stress disorder. Recommendations are offered for graduate preparation programs and professional development workshops. Current study limitations and gaps in the literature can be addressed in future research using broader student affairs populations while examining disclosure in social media, factors related to effective referrals, and student perceptions of discrimination.