Date of Graduation

5-2016

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts in Psychology (MA)

Degree Level

Graduate

Department

Psychological Science

Advisor

Ana J. Bridges

Committee Member

Matthew T. Feldner

Second Committee Member

Scott H. Eidelman

Keywords

Psychology; Help-seeking; Latinos; Mental health literacy; Psychoeducation; Stigma; Suicide

Abstract

Latino immigrants drastically underutilize mental health treatment services compared to other ethnic groups, despite rates of mental illness that are comparable to those observed among the general population. With regards to suicidal behavior specifically, twice as many Latino suicide attempters do not seek or receive psychiatric services in the year prior to attempting suicide, compared to non-Latino White attempters. The main objective of this study was to investigate whether provision of brief, passive psychoeducation in the form of a brochure could increase suicide literacy (i.e., recognizing suicidal behavior, understanding risk factors and causes of suicidal behavior), reduce stigma toward suicidal behavior, and facilitate more positive attitudes toward help-seeking among a population of first generation Latino immigrants. It was hypothesized that the participants randomly assigned to the experimental group receiving psychoeducation regarding suicide would demonstrate greater suicide literacy, less suicide stigma, and more positive attitudes toward help-seeking than participants randomly assigned to the control group receiving psychoeducation about exercise. Results revealed that, while psychoeducation did significantly increase suicide literacy, it was not effective at changing stigmatizing attitudes towards suicidal individuals or improving attitudes toward seeking professional psychological help. However, lower levels of stigma were associated with more positive attitudes toward seeking help. These findings support the potential for a brief educational intervention to increase literacy among this population, but raise questions about how to effectively reduce stigma and improve attitudes toward treatment-seeking.

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