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Open Access Thesis
Master of Arts (M.A.)
Year Degree Awarded
Month Degree Awarded
The majority of mental illness on college campuses remains untreated, and mental illness stigma is the most cited explanation for not seeking mental health treatment. Working-class college students are not only at greater risk of mental illness, but also are less likely to seek mental health treatment and hold more stigmatized views toward people with mental illness compared to affluent college students. Research on college culture suggests that elite college contexts may be associated with greater stigmatization of mental illness. This study bridges the social status and college culture literatures by asking—does social status and college context together predict students’ mental health attitudes? By surveying 757 undergraduates at an Ivy League university and a Non-Ivy League university, I found that 1) elite college students had greater mental illness stigma than non-elite students, 2) social status was positively related to personal stigma and negatively related to perceived stigma, and 3) low social status students at the Ivy League university had greater personal mental illness stigma compared to their counterparts at the Non-Ivy League university. Low social status students’ perceptions of themselves as social status minorities may be responsible for their greater stigmatization of mental illness in the elite college context. These findings suggest that increasing socioeconomic diversity on college campuses may improve lower social status students’ mental health attitudes.
Kathryne M. Young
Billings, Katie R., "Stigma in Class: Mental Illness, Social Status, and Tokenism in Elite College Culture" (2019). Masters Theses. 757.