Mattering, Anti-Mattering, and Self-Stigma of Seeking Help For Mental Health Concerns in High School Students
Atkey, Sarah Kate
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Despite the availability of effective means for dealing with mental health issues, the majority of high school youth do not seek needed treatment. Research has shown that one reason for this is the internalization of public stigma, or self-stigma (Corrigan, 2004), however the nature of this barrier to help-seeking is not well understood. This study examined two potentially related factors, which have not been studied to date, namely perceived mattering (others are interested in me) and anti-mattering (others do not care about me) to determine possible links to self-stigma. Self report measures of mattering, anti-mattering, and self-stigma of seeking help were administered to Grade 12 students at three public high schools in a large metropolitan Canadian city (n = 134). A significant negative correlation was found between levels of perceived mattering and the self-stigma of seeking help, but no significant correlation was found between levels of perceived anti-mattering and the self-stigma of seeking help. A key finding was that gender was determined to be a significant moderator between perceived mattering and anti-mattering and the self-stigma of seeking psychological help, with perceived mattering predicting self-stigma of seeking help for female students and perceived anti-mattering as a negative predictor of self-stigma of seeking help for male students. This is the first study to explore the relationships between perceived mattering and the self-stigma of seeking help, perceived anti-mattering and the self-stigma of seeking help, and the influence of gender on these relationships. This study highlights factors involved in high school students experiences of self-stigma of seeking psychological help, and suggests that there may be differences in the way male and female youth process feelings of whether or not they matter, and the impacts these feelings on the likelihood of them seeking help should it be needed. Implications for stigma reduction interventions and mental health promotion in high schools are discussed.