There has been limited consideration of the role emotion self-stigma (i.e. beliefs that experiencing and expressing so called ‘negative’ emotions are unacceptable) may play in help-seeking for emotional distress. This study is the first to investigate whether emotion self-stigma uniquely predicts help-seeking intentions across two key emotion vulnerability periods in development: (a) early adolescence and (b) young adulthood.
Methods and Design
Cross-sectional data were collected from secondary school (n = 510; M age = 13.96 years) and university students (n = 473; M age = 19.19 years) residing in Australia. Both samples completed measures online examining demographic characteristics, emotional competence, mental health and help-seeking stigma, emotion self-stigma, and help-seeking intentions. The Data were analysed using hierarchical multiple regression.
Emotion self-stigma was a significant unique predictor of help-seeking intentions in young adults but not adolescents. The strength of the relationship between increased emotion self-stigma and lowered help-seeking intentions was similar for both males and females, regardless of developmental period.
Addressing emotion self-stigma alongside mental illness and help-seeking stigma may be useful to improve help-seeking outcomes, particularly as young people transition into early adulthood.