How communicative environments affect college students' mental health help-seeking during COVID-19: a cross-sectional study. Academic Article uri icon


  • Objective: This study explores how interpersonal communication environments (eg family, patient-provider, and online communication environments) affect college students' mental help-seeking during COVID-19. Methods: Based on Social Cognitive Theory, we conducted a cross-sectional survey assessing participants' mental help-seeking attitudes, self-stigma, self-efficacy, and readiness, as well as their communication experiences with their families, healthcare providers, and online environments. Four hundred fifty-six student participants were recruited. Structural equation modeling was used to explore relationships among the assessed variables. Results: About one-third of the participants (N=137) had signs of mental distress, and most of them (N=71) did not intend to seek help soon. Patient-centered communication experiences with healthcare providers were associated with reduced help-seeking stigma, whereas online and family communication predicted help-seeking readiness through changes in attitude, self-stigma, and self-efficacy. Conclusions: This study's results help identify risk factors of help-seeking reluctance. It suggests that communicative environments affect help-seeking by influencing individual predictors. This study may inform interventions targeting college students' use of mental health services during health crises like COVID-19.

published proceedings

  • J Am Coll Health

author list (cited authors)

  • Wu, Q. L., & Street, R. L.

complete list of authors

  • Wu, Qiwei Luna||Street, Richard L

publication date

  • July 2023