Readiness to change and barriers to treatment seeking in college students with a mental disorder

Edel Ennis, Margaret Mc Lafferty, EK Murray, Coral Lapsley, AJ Bjourson, C Armour, B Bunting, SD Murphy, Siobhan O'Neill

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Citations (Scopus)
488 Downloads (Pure)


Background: College students have high prevalence of mental disorders and suicidal thoughts and behaviours, and low rates of treatment uptake. This study assesses treatment access, intentions to seek help, and perceived barriers to help-seeking, considering gender and suicidal thoughts or behaviours (STBs) as predictors. Methods: Data is from the Ulster University Student Wellbeing study (2015) conducted in Northern Ireland (NI), as part of the WHO World Mental Health Surveys International College Student Project. Participants are 392 new college entrants (162 males (41.3%)/230 females (58.7%)), who all reported some lifetime mental disorder or STBs. Results: Receipt of treatment was low (37.8%), particularly among males and those with no STBs. Males were less likely to intend to access external professional services and were less likely than females to rate embarrassment (OR = 0.60) or worry about being treated differently (OR = 0.63) as important reasons for not seeking treatment. Those with STBs rated wanting to handle things on their own as a more important barrier those with no STBs (OR = 0.55 for non STBs group) and rated being unsure where to go as a less important barrier than those with no STBs (OR = 1.80 for non STBs group). Limitations: Data is correlational and concerns lifetime criteria for mental disorder, with no consideration of current mental status nor disorder type. Conclusions: These findings have implications for the active screening and intervention for vulnerable college students, particularly males and those with mental disorders but no STBs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)428-434
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Affective Disorders
Early online date9 Apr 2019
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 1 Jun 2019


  • treatment; mental health; suicidal thoughts and behaviours (STBs); barriers; college students; gender
  • Suicidal thoughts and behaviours (STBs)
  • Treatment
  • Barriers
  • Mental health disorders
  • College students
  • Gender


Dive into the research topics of 'Readiness to change and barriers to treatment seeking in college students with a mental disorder'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this