Honors College Theses




Sociology (B.S.)

Document Type and Release Option

Thesis (open access)

Faculty Mentor

Dr. Nancy Malcom


There is no denying that mental illness has gained a strong prevalence in the United States. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, approximately one in five adults in the United States experiences a mental illness in any given year. Although mental health stigmas have played a role in the past, it does not mean they must continue to play the same role in the future. Research is now looking toward ways to decrease mental health stigma through increasing mental health knowledge. This study examines the starting point for which a society becomes literate in mental health. Using a quantitative online survey questionnaire with quantitative data analysis, participants’ self-assessed and demonstrated ability to identify mental illness was tested across three generations – Baby Boomers, Generation X, and Millennials. In addition to the generational cohort, educational experience with mental illness and personal contact with mental illness were also examined against the dependent variables. For this study, 250 participants across the three generations were recruited ranging in age from 18 to 74. Data was analyzed using IBM SPSS Statistics. In conclusion, generational differences and the closest proximity of oneself to mental illness proved to be significant points in participants’ demonstrated ability to identify mental illness, while age, frequency of contacts, and education did not weigh in as significant points. This study was approved by the Georgia Southern University Institutional Review Board.