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Front. Public Health | doi: 10.3389/fpubh.2018.00049

Perceived and Personal Mental Health Stigma in Latino and African American College Students

 Stacie C. Defreitas1*,  Travis Crone1, Martha DeLeon1 and Anna Ajayi1
  • 1Social Sciences, University of Houston–Downtown, United States

Mental health stigma occurs when people have negative thoughts and beliefs of those with mental health illnesses or mental health treatment. Mental health stigma is related to an assortment of negative outcomes including discrimination in housing and employment, reduced usage of mental health services, and poor mental health outcomes. These implications may be particularly salient for ethnic minorities such as African Americans and Latinos who already suffer from other types of discrimination. This study examines perceived and personal mental health stigma in African American and Latino college students from a non-traditional university to help elucidate factors related to the development of mental health stigma. Students completed surveys concerning their stigma beliefs. African American students were found to have higher rates of mental health stigma than Latino students. Furthermore, anxiety about those with mental illness was related to greater mental health stigma for both groups. For African Americans, it was found that their perception of their ability to visibly identify those with mental illness was related to greater mental health stigma. These findings suggest that interventions to reduce mental health stigma in college students should target specific ethnic minority groups and focus on issues that are particularly salient to those communities.

Keywords: mental health stigma, ethnic minority, Latino, African Americans, college students

Received: 26 Jul 2017; Accepted: 08 Feb 2018.

Edited by:

Shervin Assari, University of Michigan, United States

Reviewed by:

Lenwood W. Hayman, Jr., University of Michigan–Flint, United States
Rohan D. Jeremiah, University of Illinois at Chicago, United States  

Copyright: © 2018 Defreitas, Crone, DeLeon and Ajayi. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

* Correspondence: PhD. Stacie C. Defreitas, University of Houston–Downtown, Social Sciences, 1 Main St., Houston, 77002, TX, United States,