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Researchers at Iowa State University have found that self stigma is an obstacle to help for mental illness , even when the help was offered online in an anonymous setting. The study shows that people who have a greater sense of self stigma are significantly less likely to reach out to obtain information about treatment for mental disorders and mental illness. According to lead study author Daniel Lannin “Self stigma is a powerful obstacle to overcome.” The study looked at how participants responded when they had a chance to learn more about counseling services at the university and get further information about mental health help and treatment. According to Lannin “It’s not just the fear of seeing a counselor or therapist. It’s actually when people are sitting at home or on their phone. That stigma prevents them from even learning more information about depression or about counseling.”

370 participants took part in the study on self stigma and mental illness, and less than 10% of the participants either clicked a link to get more information or wanted to learn more about counseling. All of the study participants were college students. The study results were recently published and can be found in the Journal of Counseling Psychology. Lannin explained that “A lot of people with higher levels of stigma won’t even entertain the possibility of a stigma intervention because they see the intervention as going to therapy to be more open to therapy. It’s like telling someone who doesn’t like vegetables to eat some broccoli to get over it.” One possible solution is self affirmation interventions.