Date of Award


Document Type

Campus Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Stephanie W. Hartwell

Second Advisor

Andrea Leverentz

Third Advisor

Reef Youngreen


College students represent an ever-growing population that experiences a broad range of mental health issues. These emerging adults face the real and perceived threat of stigmatization related to their mental health issues in their everyday lives. A subset of this broad population includes those students who take mental health leaves as a result of their mental health issues. The purpose of this study was to better understand the real and perceived experiences faced by these students to potentially uncover those factors that have negative or positive effects on stigma. Through the mixed approach of grounded theory and modified labeling theory, the findings of this study reveal that students taking and returning from mental health leave do indeed experience negative labels and stigma along their journey. Many of the negative impacts of stigma are mitigated, however, by a series of external and internal supports and processes that exist within the collegiate environment.


Free and open access to this Campus Access Dissertation is made available to the UMass Boston community by ScholarWorks at UMass Boston. Those not on campus and those without a UMass Boston campus username and password may gain access to this dissertation through resources like Proquest Dissertations & Theses Global or through Interlibrary Loan. If you have a UMass Boston campus username and password and would like to download this work from off-campus, click on the "Off-Campus UMass Boston Users" link above.