Honors College Theses

Publication Date



Nursing (BSN)

Document Type and Release Option

Thesis (open access)

Faculty Mentor

Jeffrey Harris


There has been an increase in recent years in the effort to raise awareness of mental health issues, particularly suicide. However, awareness does not equate to understanding and there has been little in the way of public education. One of the biggest obstacles faced by those suffering from a mental illness is the public stigma associated with it. Given the high percentage of the population in the South who identify as being religious, this study looked at the relationship between religiosity and public stigma towards mental illness. Two hundred forty-two university students drawn from undergraduate biology and nursing classes completed a questionnaire which comprised two established surveys on religiosity and attitudes towards mental illness respectively. The intention was to follow the survey with educational presentations to audiences who identified as very religious to measure whether increased understanding resulted in a decrease in negative attitudes. Of the 31 places of worship approached – in writing, by telephone, by referral and in person – none agreed to participate. A subsequent educational intervention with a group of university students revealed an unexpected confound in that the evaluation questionnaire was found to be ambiguous.