Human Services and Behavioral Sciences
Dana Hirn Mueller
Depression is a serious mental illness which is becoming increasingly prevalent among college-age individuals and the general public. Depression and other mental illnesses have come under increasing concern in the United States overall and on college campuses in particular. Given concerns regarding depression among college students, it is important to examine college students’ perceptions of depression among college students versus non-college students. The current study examined and compared college students’ perceptions of depression among college students versus non-college-attending individuals. Participants viewed an online survey which included one of two versions of a vignette which described “Sam,” a “hardworking individual” considered by most to be “kind” but who can sometimes say things that “seem a little strange.” The vignettes were identical, except one vignette described Sam as a full-time college student and the other vignette described Sam as someone who works full time and does not attend college. Participants were then asked to answer questions about Sam relating to depression (e.g., likelihood of depression, feelings of sadness, feelings of hopelessness, etc.). No significant differences were found between the college and non-college conditions for any of the outcome variables of interest. Results of the current study demonstrate no significant differences in the way college students perceive depression or symptoms of depression in college students versus non-college students. To continue examining this issue and address limitations of the current study, future researchers should focus on expanding example size.