Date of Graduation

5-2020

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Social Work (MSW)

Degree Level

Graduate

Department

School of Social Work

Advisor

Alishia Ferguson

Committee Member

Sara Collie

Second Committee Member

Jenn Veilleux

Keywords

stigma, sex assigned at birth, gender identity, gender role beliefs, community mental health norms, mental illness

Abstract

Mental health stigma is a strong deterrent for individual with mental illness utilizing mental healthcare. Individuals living with a mental illness experience shame and marginalization due to stigma. Stigma is perpetuated through stereotypes created and used by people in the majority. Studies have been done to assess individual’s attitudes toward mental healthcare seeking in regards to gender, age, race, and profession. This study aimed to look at traditional gender role beliefs, sex, and gender expression as predictors of individual’s mental health attitudes and individual’s views of mental health norms. Using a cross-sectional survey, 392 participants completed scales that included the Gender Role Attitudes Scale (GRAS), Traditional Masculinity/Femininity-Scale (TMF), and an adapted version of the City Mental Illness Stigma Scale. Participants in the final sample were 75.1% female and 88.5% White and 45.4% of participants were between 18-25 years of age. This study found that gender role beliefs were the most significant predictor of mental health attitudes and norms. The more traditional gender role beliefs the more stigmatizing mental health attitudes held. The less traditional gender role beliefs the more likely to feel there are stigmatizing norms. Gender expression was significantly correlated to mental health norms. In the subsample of gender nonconforming participants, gender role beliefs significantly predicted mental health attitudes. Further research should include diversified populations and a larger sample size. Implications for social work practice include advocating for education around mental health and being cognizant of the assigned meanings that clients come to practitioners with.

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