Access Type

Open Access Dissertation

Date of Award

January 2012

Degree Type


Degree Name




First Advisor

Annmarie Cano


Many people with psychological difficulties do not seek help for these problems, especially in the emerging adult population. While research has been done on the effect of individual variables (e.g., attachment style) on help-seeking, there is no published research that attempts to create a larger, overarching model to predict help-seeking. In this study, multiple factors were examined to predict help-seeking intent and behavior. Psychological distress was expected to be related to increased help-seeking. As well, anxious attachment, perceived need for treatment, resource awareness, belief in treatment efficacy, life events, and intent to seek help if necessary were also expected to increase help-seeking, while avoidant attachment, mental health-related stigma, and social support were expected to decrease help-seeking. These variables were also anticipated to moderate the relationship between distress and help-seeking. Participants in this study were between the ages of 18-25 (M = 20.1, SD = 1.8) and predominantly female (79.1%). This was a racially diverse sample: 44.6% Caucasian, 18.7% African American, 13.6% Asian, 12.8% Middle Eastern, and 10.2% Other ethnicity. Participants completed a baseline assessment as well as a follow-up assessment two months after the baseline. Results showed that many of the measured variables were independently related to help-seeking intent (including anxious attachment, stigma, and others). When all of the variables were examined concurrently, life events, belief in treatment efficacy, and perceived need for treatment were found to be uniquely related to help-seeking intent. The results of this study also suggest that the measured variables do not predict help-seeking behavior in emerging adults, as none of the analyses were significant. While help-seeking intent and behavior were initially found to be correlated, they were not significantly related once the covariates for help-seeking behavior were taken into account. The research and clinical implications of these findings are discussed, particularly the implications for research that assumes help-seeking intent can be used as a direct proxy for help-seeking behavior.

Included in

Psychology Commons