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Thursday, 09 May 2024 17:50

The Influence of Cultural Background on Students' Mental Health

mental health stigma among students mental health stigma among students pixabay

The study conducted by a counseling researcher at the New York Institute of Technology sheds new light on the relationship between race and mental health stigma. The results may assist counseling and welfare specialists at universities in better understanding students' cultural experiences and obstacles they may encounter when seeking mental health assistance.

What will you learn?

1. What study was conducted by the New York Institute of Technology?
2. What mental health challenges are problematic among students, particularly students of color?
3. What aspects of mental health were analyzed in the study?
4. Why did Asian/Asian American students have higher levels of self-stigma and public stigma?
5. What suggestions do researchers have for counseling centers at universities in combating mental health stigma?

Inadequate attitudes toward mental health

Data shows that mental health challenges continue to be a growing problem among students, with students of color remaining an underserved and under-researched group. Additionally, while mental health worsened among all student groups during the COVID-19 pandemic, students of color were particularly susceptible to negative effects.

Mood study

In an article published in the Journal of College Student Mental Health, a new study led by Dr. Nayoung Kim, a professor of psychology and counseling at the New York Institute of Technology, examines how students of different races perceive the treatment of mental disorders.

Kim, a faculty member in the Mental Health Counseling program at the university, along with a researcher from Palo Alto University, analyzed responses from surveys given to 747 students from colleges in the United States. Some responses were collected before the COVID-19 pandemic as part of an earlier study, while others were collected after the pandemic began.

In both cases, students were asked to self-identify their race as Caucasian/White, African American/Black, Hispanic/Latino, Asian/Asian American, American Indian/Native American, or Multiracial. Then, students themselves rated statements regarding their views on various mental health-related topics, with each statement having an individual scale (e.g., from one to five), reflecting whether they agree or not. Topics included:

Self-stigma: individuals' negative attitudes toward themselves and shame about mental health issues.
Public stigma: perceived negative attitudes of others toward mental health issues.
Social support: having other people, including friends and family, to rely on in times of need or crisis.
Perceived discrimination: may take the form of microaggressions or environmental manifestations of prejudice and systemic racism.

The results revealed that Asian/Asian American students had higher levels of self-stigma and public stigma compared to other groups, suggesting they may delay seeking mental health assistance. Therefore, researchers suggest counselors offer targeted interventions to these students to help them resolve mental health issues more quickly.

On a positive note, students enrolled during the pandemic, regardless of race, showed decreased levels of self-stigma. This suggests that increased awareness of mental health resulting from the pandemic reduced the stigma associated with seeking mental health assistance.

Therefore, researchers note that at the administrative level, it is essential to educate the campus community about stigma and potential mental distress that may affect students' well-being. Doing so can significantly impact whether students feel empowered to seek help.

"Our findings are particularly helpful for counseling centers at universities, which could benefit from adjusting counseling services to provide support for students from racial and ethnic minority backgrounds," says Kim, whose clinical and supervisory experiences include school, university, and community counseling. "By gaining a deeper understanding of students' cultural experiences, college counselors can also facilitate group counseling sessions that delve into the complexity of mental health stigma and create a safe and inclusive space where students can express their perspectives, acquire effective coping strategies, and gain insight into the impact of this stigma."

Source: newswise

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