It is assumed that stigmas surrounding mental illnesses have begun to lessen over time. Generation Z seems to be the most accepting of neurodivergent individuals and people with mental illnesses (Bethune, 2019). However, existing literature suggests that college students continue to have negative attitudes toward mental illnesses, which could lead to a refusal of mental health services, unsafe social environments, and self-medication (Phelan & Basow, 2007). To further investigate GenZ’s stigmas toward mental illness, this study assesses college students’ attitudes toward various mental health diagnoses including Depression, Anxiety, Attention Deficit-Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), and Eating Disorders. Specifically, perceptions related to factors such as relationship disruption, visibility, anxiety, and professional efficacy will be investigated. After reviewing situational vignettes depicting peers with diagnoses and the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual Fifth Edition definitions of these diagnoses, participants’ attitudes were assessed using an adapted version of Day’s Mental Illness Stigma Scale, and additional questions regarding participants’ attitudes. Previous studies found prevalent stigmas amongst college students regarding ASD and eating disorders. Students may hold more positive attitudes toward anxiety, depression, and ADHD than eating disorders and ASD. This research helps to address the conflicting claims about GenZ’s attitudes about mental disorders and explore the stigma of mental illnesses among college students. Mean comparisons between each level of both conditions, study limitations, and future directions are discussed.

Thesis Completion




Thesis Chair/Advisor

Mottarella, Karen


Bachelor of Science (B.S.)


College of Sciences



Degree Program

Clinical Psychology



Access Status

Open Access

Release Date