Exploring Perceptions of Public Stigma as a Mediator in the Relationship between Number of Depressive Symptoms and Mental Health Treatment-Seeking Behaviours
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Background: Individuals with more depressive symptoms are more likely to seek treatment. However, there is evidence suggesting that these same individuals may be more likely to feel stigmatized. As expectations of public stigmatization may discourage treatment-seeking from those who would benefit the most, it is important to gain a better understanding of the interplay among these variables. Objective: The aim of this thesis was to determine if perceived public stigma towards people with depression acts as a mediator in the relationship between the number of depressive symptoms and mental health treatment-seeking behaviour. Methods: This study utilized secondary, cross sectional data from Statistics Canada’s 2010 Canadian Community Health Survey, including a rapid response stigma module. Participants (ages 12-101) were from the regions of Prince Edward Island, Quebec, Alberta, and the Northwest Territories and were interviewed between May-June 2010 (N = 2,087). SAS 9.4 survey procedures incorporated the sampling weights and bootstrap variance estimation procedures. Multiple linear regression and logistic regression were used to assess the associations of interest. Sobel’s formula for standard error was used to construct 95% confidence intervals around the estimate of the indirect effect. Results: For both females and males, the number of depressive symptoms experienced positively predicted the likelihood of mental health treatment-seeking. In females, but not in males, there was a significant, positive association between number of depressive symptoms and perceived public stigma. For both females and males, when the number of depressive symptoms was statistically controlled, there was no association between perceived public stigma towards depression and mental health treatment-seeking. Perceived public stigma towards depression did not mediate the relationship between number of depressive symptoms and mental health treatment-seeking behaviour. Conclusion: Results of this study show that perceived public stigma towards depression does not mediate the relationship between number of depressive symptoms and mental health treatment-seeking behaviour. As one of the first studies to assess the associations among number of depressive symptoms, perceived public stigma towards depression, and mental health treatment-seeking behaviour, the results from this study contribute new information to the mixed body of literature.