Student-athletes have been identified as a distinctive sub-population in universities and colleges that face unique stressors and pressures that may put them at risk for developing mental health problems, including depression, when compared to student non-athletes. However, student-athletes have been found to seek help from mental health professionals less often than student non-athletes. Studies of college students in the general population have shown that social support networks can play an important part in “buffering” or moderating the effect of stress on both depression and help-seeking, which may also be the case for student-athletes. The purpose of the current study is to examine what stress factors predict attitudes toward help-seeking, and to test the role of social support as a moderator of the relationship between stress and depression, and attitudes toward help-seeking in college student athletes. The sample included 134 undergraduate college student-athletes and 2 graduate college student-athletes from several U.S. colleges, sports, and athletic divisions, with a mean age of 19.53 years old (SD = 1.3), 77.9% of participants being female, and 77.2% being. Participants completed an online survey regarding their experiences of stress, depression, perceived social support, and attitudes toward help-seeking. We use hierarchical linear regression analyses to examine perceived social support as a moderator of the relationship between stress and attitudes toward help-seeking, between depression and attitudes toward help-seeking, and between stress and depression. An additional regression analysis was used to examine the relationship between several areas of stress experienced by student-athletes and their attitudes toward help-seeking. Results showed that social support did not have a moderating effect on the relationships among stress, depression, and attitudes toward help-seeking. However, increased stress was associated with increased depression, and both stress and depression were negatively associated with attitudes toward help-seeking. These results suggest a reluctance to seek help among college student-athletes despite the experience of stress and depression. Possible negative influences that may impact student-athletes’ decision to seek help may include time pressures and stigma in the athletic culture.

LLU Discipline

Clinical Psychology




School of Behavioral Health

First Advisor

Boyd, Kendal C.

Second Advisor

Morrell, Holly E. R.

Third Advisor

Vermeersch, David A.

Fourth Advisor

Young, T. Lorraine

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Level


Year Degree Awarded


Date (Title Page)




Library of Congress/MESH Subject Headings

Sports - Psychology; Depression; Stress; Health Behavior; Social Support

Subject - Local

Student athletes; Help-Seeking attitudes; Athletic culture; Stigmas; Hierarchical Linear Regression Analyses



Page Count


Digital Format


Digital Publisher

Loma Linda University Libraries

Usage Rights

This title appears here courtesy of the author, who has granted Loma Linda University a limited, non-exclusive right to make this publication available to the public. The author retains all other copyrights.


Loma Linda University Electronic Theses and Dissertations

Collection Website



Loma Linda University. Del E. Webb Memorial Library. University Archives