The influence of stigma and trust in young people seeking support for their own or a friend's symptoms : the role of threat appraisals

Pimenta, Sofia M. and Hunter, Simon C. and Rasmussen, Susan (2022) The influence of stigma and trust in young people seeking support for their own or a friend's symptoms : the role of threat appraisals. Child and Youth Care Forum. ISSN 1053-1890 (https://doi.org/10.1007/s10566-022-09698-6)

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Abstract

Background: Stigma and trust influence how adolescents seek support for mental illness, though it is unclear how these influence their decisions to approach a range of potential sources of support. Moreover, even less is known about the ways in which these issues are related when a friend discloses symptoms of mental illness. Objective: The study’s aims were to understand the role of stigma, trust, and threat appraisals in adolescents’ support seeking when exposed to their own, or to a friend’s, symptoms of mental illness. Method: A vignette-based study comparing reports of support (friends, parents, teachers, professionals, and online) was completed with reference to either (i) experiencing symptoms of mental illness or (ii) having a friend disclose these types of symptoms. Two hundred and fifty adolescents (M = 12.75 years) answered questions pertaining to stigma (public and self), trust levels, threat appraisals, and support seeking. Results: When dealing with their own symptoms, threat accounted for 4.8% and 2.5% of the variance when seeking support from parents and professionals, respectively. Self-stigma accounted for 2.4% of variance when seeking support from parents and 0.8% of variance when seeking support from professionals. Trust moderated the association between threat and the use of online support. When responding to a friend’s disclosure, higher levels of public-stigma were associated with lower support seeking from friends, parents, and professionals. Conclusions: This study showed a distinction in how adolescents deal with their own or a friend’s symptoms of mental illness, and what resources they choose to ask for support from. Self-stigma, threat, and trust levels were particularly relevant when experiencing their own symptoms, while dealing with a friend’s disclosure was related to levels of public-stigma.

ORCID iDs

Pimenta, Sofia M. ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-9680-514X, Hunter, Simon C. and Rasmussen, Susan ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0001-6408-0028;