Syllabus Tone, More Than Mental Health Statements, Influence Intentions to Seek Help

Author / Creator
Gurung, Regan A. R.; Galardi, Noelle R.
Part of
Teaching of psychology, 2022-07, Vol.49 (3), p.218-223
  • Background: Mental health issues are increasing in higher education and finding ways for students to get help when needed is important. Objective: We tested if the tone of a short syllabus and the presence of a special statement addressing mental health would increase intentions to approach instructors for help. Method: We used a 2 (Tone: warm vs. cold) × 2(Statement: present vs. absent) experimental design. Participants (N = 257) read one of four, two-page syllabi, and rated intentions to reach out for help and the instructor. Results: We found a main effect for tone on three Reach Out statements and ratings of the instructor. Presence of the statement influenced likelihood to reach out for help with personal problems. Conclusions: Both the tone of a short syllabus and the presence of statements normalizing reaching out for help can influence student intentions to contact instructors for help. Teaching Implications: Writing a warm toned syllabus and addressing stress and mental health with a university statement may increase student’s intentions to ask for help.



  • College Students
  • Computer Assisted Instruction
  • Course Descriptions
  • Health services utilization
  • Help Seeking
  • Intention
  • Language Usage
  • Mental Health
  • Mental health care
  • Program Effectiveness
  • Research Design
  • Stress
  • Stress Variables
  • Student Attitudes
  • Student Behavior
  • Teaching Methods
  • University students

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