The topic of mental health is emerging as significant concern amongst college students, and social support is one of the resources that students are utilizing in order to manage their mental health. While ample research has examined and theorized about the role of social support in stress mediation, minimal literature has addressed the specific ways in which providers and forms of social support are differentially perceived by college students, more specifically by students with and without mental illness. This study collected quantitative survey data from the Hamilton College student body regarding student demographics and perceptions of social support and mental health on campus. Although perceptions of social support were not found to vary between students with and without mental illness, social support and mental illness prevalence was found to vary by race, gender, socioeconomic status, and sexual orientation. Furthermore, increased number of mental health discussants, especially discussants with similar mental health experience, was found to positively affect social support. The findings of this study build upon previous literature regarding the role of social support in mental health management and serve to expand our understanding of social support and mental illness so that support initiatives at Hamilton can be formulated and improved. Continued research into this topic is crucial to the betterment of mental health amongst college students and has implications for Hamilton College and beyond.

Type of Work

Thesis - Limited Access

Department or Program



Hamilton College


Bachelor of Arts

Date of Graduation


Faculty Advisor

Matthew Grace

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.