DNP Scholarly Projects


A large body of literature portrays the long-term, increased presence of mental illness stigma in college students, a vulnerable population at high risk of victimization. However, literature lacks sufficient research differentiating between the separate forms of mental illness stigma as well as consistent research examining stigma specific to the mental illness of depression in college students. A cross-sectional, web-based survey design was utilized to collect quantitative data from 432 students at a private, four-year university in the southeastern United States. The primary investigator both described the presence of and relationship between levels of perceived public stigma, personal public stigma, and self-stigma of depression in college students as well as the influence of religiosity, race/ethnicity, previous contact, and year of study on stigma levels. Three key findings were: (a) almost half of participants personally identified with the label of depression; (b) the university sample scored a low perceived public stigma level, moderate personal public stigma level, and moderate self-stigma level of depression; and (c) personal public stigma levels were influenced by race/ethnicity and previous contact. The finding of increased self-stigma in relation to an overall positive, campus-wide attitude suggested individually-held stigma might be a more significant barrier to overall mental health than societal stigma at the current university. Normalizing depression, increasing awareness and understanding in healthcare providers, and promoting exposure to depression could reduce public stigma at the individual level and inhibit the progression of self-stigma in students with depression.


Spring 4-17-2020

First Advisor

Linda Wofford

Scholarly Project Team Member

David Phillippi

Scholarly Project Team Member

Adam Pace


Nursing, School of


Health Sciences & Nursing, Gordon E. Inman College of

Document Type

Scholarly Project


Doctorate of Nursing Practice (DNP)

Degree Level


Degree Grantor

Belmont University


mental illness stigma, depression stigma, college students, university, perceived public stigma, personal public stigma, public stigma, self-stigma