Date of Award

Spring 2017

Degree Type


Director of Thesis

Dr. Susan Alexander

Second Reader

Dr. Rebecca Caldwell


The prevalence of mental health disorders amongst college students, especially studentathletes and honors students, has reached dangerously high levels. Furthermore, the stigma associated with mental disorders has been proven to prevent the struggling population from seeking help for themselves through mental health services. This study examined the relationship between mental health and college students (i.e. undergraduates, student-athletes, and honors students), as well as the effects of mental health advocacy on the speaker and the listener. Study participants consisted primarily of NCAA Division I undergraduate studentathletes at the University of South Carolina, with a sample size of 116. Results indicated that there was, in fact, a large prevalence of mental health disorders amongst student-athletes; furthermore, stigma seemed to be a limiting factor in receiving help through mental health services. However, the strongest limiting factor was the perception that personal struggles with mental health aren’t “that big of a deal.” This perception may have been a result of stigma. That being said, mental health advocacy did evoke a reaction in student-athletes, encouraging some to receive help. From this researcher’s perspective, advocacy proved to be both a therapeutic and effective technique in treating personal struggles with mental health.

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