Extending the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System Questionnaire to the Bethel College Campus for Assessment of Mental Health and Mental Health Stigma

Lila Elizabeth Tibbets


By using the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS), it was possible to assess the mental health and mental health stigma held by the students of Bethel College. Stigma is expressed in many ways and is a forceful deterrent to those seeking mental health services. Through the analysis of a large data set, this study developed a more complete understanding of who copes with a mental illness and how they experience stigmatization. Twenty percent of the resident student population was solicited for response in a stratified, random sampling during the spring and fall semesters of 2015. Students (31 men & 46 women) completed the section of the BRFSS questionnaire concerning mental health and the Internalized Stigma of Mental Illness questionnaire. BRFSS data from five legislative states were used to form comparisons. Hypothesis 1: That there will be a significant difference between the Kansas data and that of North Carolina, Colorado, New York, and Ohio; indicating better mental health and lower stigma levels among Kansas residents. Hypothesis 1 was confirmed. This difference may be due to state legislation and cultural factors. Hypothesis 2: That there will be a significant difference between the Bethel College students’ responses and the BRFSS data on Kansan’s ages 18 to 24, with Bethel’s scores indicating poorer mental health and higher stigma. Hypothesis 2 was also confirmed. These differences may be due to the unique challenges posed to college students or challenges unique to Bethel College. However, this analysis was not sensitive to the Kansan individuals’ status as college students or working professionals. The results of large data analysis, presented in a clear and accessible manner, can provide the information necessary to end mental health stigma and lead to improvements in the quality of life for those Bethel College students diagnosed with a mental illness.


Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, Mental Health, Mental Health Stigma

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