Date of Award

Spring 2017

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Counseling & Human Services

Committee Director

Alan Schwitzer

Committee Member

Christopher Sink

Committee Member

Dana Burnett


The purpose of this dissertation study was to validate the Understanding Mental Health Scale (UMHS). The UMHS is a 50-item questionnaire that was designed to measure college students’ awareness of mental health issues. To test the psychometric properties of the UHMS, a principal axis factor (PAF) analysis with an oblique rotation was conducted using an existing data set of 350 college students. Results revealed a two-factor structure underlying college students’ understanding of mental health issues. The factors were named risk-factor awareness (familiarity with warning signs of mental health issues) and resource awareness (knowledge of resources for mental health issues). A multivariate analysis of variance (MANOVA) was conducted to investigate group differences by gender and ethnicity in students’ understanding of awareness and resource awareness for mental health issues. Statistically significant main effects emerged for gender and for ethnicity. Women scored significantly higher than men on both the risk-factor awareness factor and the protective factor subscales. In addition, participants who identified as White scored significantly higher on the risk-factor awareness scale compared to participants who identified as African American or non-White/African American. Implications for college counselors, educators, university administrators, and students are discussed. A review of the limitations and potential contributions of this study are provided.