Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

Degree Granting Department

Educational Measurement and Research

Major Professor

Robert Dedrick, Ph.D.

Committee Member

John Ferron, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Eun Sook Kim, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Amber Gum, Ph.D.


help-seeking, treatment readiness, intentions, initiation, retention, psychotherapy


Only a small percentage of people with mental health issues utilize mental health services. This would seem contradictory given the increasing understanding of mental disorders, their high prevalence, and associated disability and distress. Research shows that individual level factors, such as perceptions of need, mental health knowledge, mental health attitudes, and mental health literacy, are related to individuals’ decisions to seek mental health services. The Health Belief Model (HBM) posits four types of health beliefs that affect an individual’s health behavior, in this case, the decision to seek mental health services. To date, researchers and clinicians have no assessment tool to empirically identify the factors affecting a particular individual’s decision making about using mental health services. Therefore, the goal of this study was to develop and validate a self-report instrument, called the Mental Health Belief Model Assessment (MHBMA), designed to assess readiness to seek formal mental health services. Based on the HBM, the MHBMA includes 76 items grouped into five scales: Perceived Susceptibility and Fears, Perceived Severity, Perceived Benefits, Perceived Barriers, and Self-efficacy. A 20-item short form was also developed. The responses of a validation sample of 192 adults provided the initial evidence for reliability and validity of the MHBMA. In terms of reliability, internal consistency reliability was high for each scale, with Cronbach’s alphas ranging from .90 to .97, and test-retest correlation coefficients for each scale were strong, ranging from .82 to .92. Evidence for validity was examined via test content, internal structure, and relations to other variables. Specifically, moderate to high correlations in the expected directions were found between the MHBMA and Attitudes Toward Seeking Professional Psychological Help Scale-Short Form and the Barriers to Help Seeking Scale. The scale scores on the MHBMA were also examined in relation to a number of demographic and service use variables. Guidelines for use and interpretation on the MHBMA, delimitations and limitations of the current study, and implications for research and practice are discussed.