Unmet Mental Health Treatment Need and Attitudes Toward Online Mental Health Services Among Community College Students

Published in: Psychiatric Services [Epub March 2018]. doi:10.1176/appi.ps.201700402

Posted on RAND.org on April 24, 2018

by Michael Stephen Dunbar, Lisa Sontag-Padilla, Courtney Ann Kase, Rachana Seelam, Bradley D. Stein

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Objective

A survey assessed use of and attitudes toward online mental health services among community college students to inform how such services may contribute to reducing unmet treatment need.

Methods

A total of 6,034 students completed a Web-based survey on mental health and use of and attitudes toward mental health services. Logistic regression assessed the relationship between prior mental health treatment and attitudes among students with current serious psychological distress.

Results

Among students with psychological distress (N=1,557), 28% reported prior in-person service use and 3% reported online mental health services use; most (60%) reported willingness to use online services. Students with no prior in-person treatment were less likely than those with history of in-person treatment to endorse preferences for in-person services (adjusted odds ratio=.54).

Conclusions

Students reported being open to using online mental health services, but utilization was low. Targeted outreach efforts may be required if these services are to reduce unmet treatment need.

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