Baker, Carrie Nichol (2020-04). Predicting Behavioral Intention of Agricultural Producers to Seek Mental Health Assistance: The Influence of Social Identity, Social Capital, and Self-Stigma. Master's Thesis.
Mental illness is a silent disease that largely impacts populations across the globe. One population particularly at risk for compromised mental health and related disorders is agricultural producers. Health promotional behaviors like positive help-seeking intention can be used to improve mental health outcomes. One crucial component of improved mental health outcomes is help-seeking intention, which can be mediated by variables such as social identity, social capital and self-stigma. The purpose of this study was to describe the relationship between social identity, social capital, and self-stigma and investigate how these variables influence the mental health help-seeking intentions of agricultural producers. My study utilized survey research design to address these aims. I surveyed a nonrandom, accessible sample of agricultural producers (n=429) in Texas to understand their social identity, social capital, and degree of self-stigma, as well as their intentions to seek mental health assistance and the sources from which they would be likely to seek help. From this study, I concluded that agricultural producers are most likely to seek help from those closest to them within their social networks, most notably their intimate partners (i.e. girlfriend, boyfriend, husband, wife, de' facto, etc). After intimate partners, agricultural producers noted that if they were experiencing suicide ideation, they would be willing to seek help from religious leaders and mental health professionals. Additionally, I confirmed relationships between social identity and social capital and concluded that social capital and self-stigma are significant predictors of help-seeking intention. Based upon these findings, I recommend that practitioners utilize identity-based programming, including faith-based and community-centered frames of support to increase social capital. I also recommend that the agriculture community collaborates with mental health professionals to provide services and raise awareness for this industry issue. Additionally, I recommend that first aid trainings, awareness programs and support networks be put in place to assist individuals in agricultural producers' immediate social networks and those from whom they would be most likely to seek help. To address stigma, I recommend that respected voices, such as industry organizations and agribusinesses, implement educational programming and communication strategies to destigmatize mental illness and promote positive help-seeking behavior.