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Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Dr. Chelsea D. Williams


Addressing the mental health of college students is a persistent and increasing priority (Auerbach et al., 2018), especially among Black American individuals. Given prevalent mental health disparities, it is critical to understand the association between Black American emerging adults’ mental health literacy (MHL) and mental health outcomes including promotive mental health-related behaviors (MHRBs) and symptoms (i.e., anxiety and depressive symptoms), and the modifiable underlying factors that inform them. Guided by the Theory of Planned Behavior (Ajzen, 1991) and the Identity-based Motivation theory (Oyserman & Yoder, 2007), the present study aimed to examine the relation between mental health literacy and mental health outcomes (i.e., promotive MHRBs and symptoms). Mediation analysis was used to examine whether each promotive MHRB mediates the relation between MHL and anxiety and depressive symptoms. Direct paths were included as part of the mediation analyses. To test whether ERI functions as a moderator between MHL and each promotive MHRBs the hypothesized models included interaction terms between each dimension of ERI (i.e., affirmation, exploration, resolution, centrality) and MHL predicting mental health symptoms via each promotive MHRBs. Findings indicated promotive benefits of resolution as a moderator of the relation between MHL and promotive MHRBs (i.e., psychological, emotional and spiritual selfcare). Additionally, greater MHL predicted fewer mental health symptoms via promotive MHRBs (i.e., emotional selfcare, mental health help-seeking intention). Overall, findings highlight the promotive benefits of ERI on the association between MHL and mental health outcomes (i.e., promotive MHRBs and mental health symptoms), and the importance of promotive MHRBs in strengthening the association between MHL and positive mental health outcomes among Black American college students.


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