Author ORCID Identifier

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Counseling and Psychological Services

First Advisor

Jeff Ashby, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Cirleen DeBlaere, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Ken Rice, Ph.D.

Fourth Advisor

Ibrahim Kira, Ph.D.


Mental health stigma is a major barrier to seeking professional psychological services (Corrigan, 2004). Black college students in particular endorse higher rates of mental health stigma and also have fewer positive attitudes toward seeking mental health help (Cheng et al., 2013; Kuo et al., 2006). As a result, Black young adults underutilize mental health services at higher rates than older Black individuals and White young adults (SAMHSA, 2015). The Black community has also experienced greater adversity from the pandemic, having more coronavirus cases, hospitalizations, and deaths compared to White people in the United States (CDC, 2020). This has led to Black individuals experiencing increased stress and trauma (Kujawa et al., 2020; Sneed et al., 2020). As a result, it is important to explore variables that may prevent use of psychological services among the Black community, and specifically among Black young adults. The purpose of this study is to examine the relationship between mental health stigma, COVID-19 traumatic stress, and race in predicting help-seeking among a Black and White college student sample. Results showed that, contrary to the study hypothesis, when controlling for gender and depression a three-way interaction of self-stigma by race by COVID-19 traumatic stress was not significant. Results also showed that, as hypothesized, when controlling for gender and depression, there was a positive relationship between depression anxiety and COVID-19 traumatic stress. This study can inform outreach and intervention strategies for mental health professionals to combat stigma and address pandemic trauma among Black young adults specifically.


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