First Advisor

Greg Townley

Date of Publication

Summer 10-1-2019

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (M.S.) in Psychology






Mental illness, Urban health, Rural health, Stigma (Social psychology), Distress (Psychology)



Physical Description

1 online resource (vi, 83 pages)


During the deinstitutionalization movement in the 1960s, community mental health centers and supportive and affordable housing for people with serious mental illnesses (SMI) was concentrated in economically disadvantaged urban centers. Today, these urban centers are becoming increasingly gentrified and unaffordable for people with SMI. Affordability is no longer synonymous with urban living, and supportive housing for people with SMI is increasingly found in non-urban areas. Given this shift, it is important to understand the potential impacts of non-urban living on people with SMI. Non-urban environments provide potential benefits for the general population, including reduced traffic and increased proximity to the outdoors. However, people with SMI living in non-urban areas may perceive higher levels of mental illness stigma than their urban counterparts, leading to negative outcomes. I hypothesized that the relationships between perceived stigma and psychological distress and perceived stigma and sense of community would be moderated by urbanicity, such that these relationships would be stronger in non-urban settings. Data collected from 300 adults with SMI living in a range of urban and non-urban areas were analyzed using a moderated regression design. Correlations were found between primary study variables, but the moderation by urbanicity hypotheses were not supported. The broad construct of urbanicity needs to be explored further to understand which components impact perceived stigma and outcomes. The associations between urbanicity, perceived stigma, sense of community, and psychological distress support the need to address mental illness stigma across all settings.


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