Mental help seeking attitudes scale (MHSAS): Development, reliability, validity, and comparison with the ATSPPH-SF and IASMHS-PO

Joseph H. Hammer, Mike C. Parent, Douglas A. Spiker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

76 Scopus citations


Attitudes is a key help-seeking construct that influences treatment seeking behavior via intention to seek help, per the theory of planned behavior (TPB). This article presents the development and psychometric evaluation of the Mental Help Seeking Attitudes Scale (MHSAS), designed to measure respondents' overall evaluation (unfavorable vs. favorable) of their seeking help from a mental health professional. In Study 1 (N = 857 United States adults), exploratory factor analysis (EFA), confirmatory factor analysis (CFA), and item response theory (IRT) analysis were used to identify an optimal set of 9 items that demonstrated initial evidence of internal consistency, unidimensionality, and strong measurement equivalence/ invariance (ME/I) across gender, past help-seeking experience, and psychological distress. Initial convergent evidence of validity was demonstrated via theoretically anticipated relationships between the MHSAS and key variables in the help-seeking nomological network (e.g., subjective norms, perceived behavioral control, intention, public stigma, self-stigma, anticipated risks and benefits, gender, previous help seeking). Initial incremental evidence of validity was demonstrated when the MHSAS demonstrated the ability to account for unique variance in help-seeking intention, beyond that accounted for by the Attitudes Toward Seeking Professional Psychological Help-Short Form scale (ATSPPH-SF) and the Psychological Openness subscale of the Inventory of Attitudes Toward Seeking Mental Health Services (IASMHS-PO). Study 2 (N = 207 United States adults at Times 1 and 2) provided initial evidence of test-retest reliability over a 3-week period. The MHSAS offers mental health professionals a new tool for measuring attitudes that may avoid limitations of current help seeking-attitudes measures (e.g., construct-irrelevant variance).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)74-85
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Counseling Psychology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2018

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Procedure. To avoid the limited age range of college student samples, a community adult Study 1 sample (N = 857) was recruited to guide the selection of items for, and the psychometric evaluation of, the instrument. The Study 1 sample was recruited via ResearchMatch, a national health volunteer registry created by several academic institutions and supported by the United States National Institutes of Health as part of the Clinical Translational Science Award program. ResearchMatch has a large population of volunteers who have consented to be contacted by researchers about health studies for which they may be eligible. Review and approval for this study and all procedures was obtained from the University of Kentucky Office of Research Integrity. Participants were contacted via the registry messaging system regarding the study, which was advertised as a therapy questionnaire. Inclusion criteria included minimum age of 18 and fluency in written English. Interested participants were directed to an online survey that

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 American Psychological Association.


  • Attitudes
  • Help seeking
  • Reliability
  • Scale development
  • Validity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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