Although many social work students suffer from mental health symptoms, the majority of them do not seek help, because of shame. Accordingly, the purposes of this study were to evaluate social work students’ attitudes for mental health problems, and explore relationships among shame, mental health symptoms, self-criticism, self-compassion and role identity. First, eighty-four UK female undergraduate social work students completed a measure of attitudes towards mental health problems, and were compared with ninety-four UK female undergraduate students in other subjects. UK female undergraduate social work students had a higher level of negative perception in their community’s attitudes towards mental health problems. Second, eighty-seven UK social work students completed the attitudes, mental health, self-criticism, self-compassion and role-identity measures. Self-criticism, self-compassion and role identity were significantly related to mental health symptoms and identified as significant, independent predictors of mental health symptoms. This study confirmed that social work students consider that their community perceives mental health problems negatively and that their self-criticism, self-compassion and role identity relate to their poor mental health. The findings may help social work students, educators and researchers to deepen the understanding of their mental health symptoms and identify better solutions.
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