Where do I turn for help? Gender role conflict, self-stigma, and college men’s help-seeking for depression.

Brian P. Cole, Paul B. Ingram

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


Experiences of self-stigma and gender role conflict act as barriers to men’s psychological help-seeking. Although previous studies suggest that violation of masculine norms and the desire to preserve masculinity reduce men’s help-seeking behaviors, little is known about the ways in which specific help-seeking behaviors are impacted. The current study examined relations between gender role conflict, self-stigma, and help-seeking for depression among a sample of college men from a Midwestern university in the United States (N = 313). Participants engaged in a role induction based upon a vignette about a man with depression and were asked the types of help-seeking behaviors they would engage in (i.e., professional help, self-help, informal help, or avoidant behaviors). Results of this study indicate that gender role conflict and self-stigma have different relations to help-seeking behaviors. More specifically, (a) gender role conflict plays an incremental role beyond mental health self-stigma in understanding certain types of responses to mental health needs, (b) there is a positive relationship between experiencing gender role conflict and holding increasingly self-stigmatizing views, (c) self-stigma and gender role conflict differ in their pattern of influence for mental health treatment responses, (d) gender role conflict corresponds with increased avoidant behaviors and decreases social support utilization, and (e) self-stigma predicts decreased social support and professional help utilization while also increasing avoidant behaviors. Although gender role conflict and self-stigma had unique relations to professional help-seeking for depression, utilization of social support was negatively impacted by both. Considerations for help-seeking patterns in men and the influence of both stigmatized social views and conflicting gender roles are discussed. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2020 APA, all rights reserved)Public Significance Statement—This study suggests that men’s experiences of gender role conflict and self-stigma of help-seeking are associated with their decisions to utilize self-help, to talk with friends and family, and to seek professional help when depressed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)441-452
Number of pages12
JournalPsychology of Men and Masculinity
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2020


  • depression
  • gender role socialization
  • health disparities
  • help-seeking
  • men


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