Investigating the Stigma of Post-traumatic Stress Disorder within the College Community.

Open Access
Wade, Juliana Kathryn
Area of Honors:
Interdisciplinary in Criminology and Rehabilitation and Human Services
Bachelor of Science
Document Type:
Thesis Supervisors:
  • Deirdre Elizabeth Mary O'sullivan, Thesis Supervisor
  • Stacy Silver, Honors Advisor
  • Dr Brandon Hunt, Faculty Reader
  • Deirdre Elizabeth Mary O'sullivan, Honors Advisor
  • stigma
  • post-traumatic stress disorder
  • PTSD
  • veterans
  • civilians
  • students
Stigmatization has been identified as a barrier to care for veterans with mental illness, specifically post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). This study examined the degree of stigmatization ascribed to the diagnosis of PTSD, as well as help-seeking behavior and flourishing levels of veterans who are students compared to civilians who are students. A sample of 48 students, including 22 veterans and 26 civilians, enrolled at The Pennsylvania State University participated in this study by completing a short survey that included a series of scales. Despite my research predictions, the findings showed that both groups reported similar help-seeking behavior and social stigma attitudes towards PTSD. In addition, the findings showed no statistically significant relationship between higher flourishing levels and lower rates of stigma, which was unexpected. The findings also showed a statistically significant relationship between civilians who are students and self-stigma of mental illness, but this did not support my prediction that veterans who are students would have more self-stigma of mental illness. These findings are important as they could help mental health professionals develop more efficient anti-stigma programs and promote the treatment of mental illness, especially PTSD, in the active duty, veteran, and civilian populations.