Around one‐fifth (20.3%) of all college students worldwide experience a psychological disorder within a given year, however, only 16% of these individuals receive treatment for their mental health issue (Auerbach et al., 2016). As approximately three‐quarters of lifetime mental illnesses are onset by the age of 24 (Kessler et al., 2005), it is paramount this age group receives the treatment they need. College students seeking help for their mental health concerns face numerous barriers to engaging in treatment such as stigma (D’Amico, Mechling, Kemppainen, Ahern, & Lee, 2016) and their attitudes toward help‐seeking (Kelly & Achter, 1995). Online counselling, defined as the provision of mental health services in a non‐face‐to‐face setting through distance communication such as telephone, email, and videoconferencing (Mallen & Vogel, 2005), provides benefits, such as convenience (Chester & Glass, 2006) and accessibility (Sampson, Kolodinsky, & Greeno, 1997) to clients. Additionally, this method provides anonymity (Young, 2005) that could lessen the impact of these barriers and therefore increase the likelihood an individual will seek treatment (Wallin, Maathz, Parling, & Hursti, 2018). Although online counselling provides these potential benefits, previous researchers have found attitudes toward this form of counselling to be less favourable when compared to the more traditional face‐to‐face method (Rochlen, Beretvas, & Zack, 2004; Lewis, Coursol, Bremer, & Komarenko, 2015). It is unclear, however, if this is due to a difference in levels of stigma toward this counselling modality. Furthermore, little is known about online counselling and its relationship with stigma, attitudes, and intentions to seek help among the college population. The purpose of this study, therefore, was twofold. First, this study set out to investigate how stigma, attitudes, and intentions toward seeking online counselling differed to that of face‐to‐face counselling. Secondly, this study sought to examine the relationship between stigma, attitudes, and intentions toward online counselling held by college students, and to identify if this relationship differed to that of these variables related to face‐to‐face counselling.
University of Lincoln, College of Social Science Research
Dr Matt Bird, University of Lincoln, School of Sport and Exercise Science
Graig M Chow, Department of Educational Psychology and Learning Systems, Tallahassee
Yanyun Yang, Department of Educational Psychology and Learning Systems, Tallahassee