Doctoral Dissertations

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Social Work

Major Professor

David A. Patterson, Mary Held

Committee Members

Julia Jaekel, Laurie L. Meschke


Background: Postpartum depression is the most common complication associated with childbearing. Nearly 1 in 7 women will experience postpartum depression within the first 12 months post child-birth. When left untreated the consequences of postpartum depression affect the development of the offspring and for the mother, untreated postpartum depression can be deadly. Although the prevalence of postpartum depression is relatively high, few women seek treatment for this complication. The purpose of this study was to better understand what factors predict treatment seeking among new mothers. Method: An online survey of new mothers was conducted to assess their attitudes about receiving treatment for post-partum depression. A binary regression was conducted to determine the predictors of help-seeking behaviors among new mothers. The second analysis conducted was a hierarchical linear regression testing the interaction effect between perceived stigma and mental health literacy on attitudes toward helpseeking. Results: Based on a sample of 326 new mothers predictors for help seeking included increased levels of depression, favorable attitudes toward help-seeking and a history of treatment for depression. The interaction between stigma and mental health literacy was not statistically significant. Conclusions: Results indicate the severity of depression and favorable attitudes toward help-seeking were predictors of help-seeking behavior among postpartum women in this sample. The results of hierarchical regression suggest that decreased perception of stigma and increased mental health literacy can improve attitudes toward professional psychological helpseeking. Further research is needed to identify if increasing mental health literacy is an effective means to increase treatment seeking among women with postpartum depression.

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