Date on Honors Thesis

Fall 12-2017



Examining Committee Member

Michael Bordieri, PhD, Advisor

Examining Committee Member

Ben Post, PhD, Committee Member

Examining Committee Member

Marie Karlsson, PhD, Committee Member

Examining Committee Member

Sean Rife, PhD, Committee Member


Mental health stigma, defined as negative attitudes and behaviors targeted towards individuals that appear to have a mental health disorder, is one of the most pressing issues faced by individuals with mental disorders (Corrigan, 2004). As a result, many individuals facing psychological health issues elect not to seek treatment due to fears of how they will be perceived and treated by other members of society. Research has shown that mental health stigma is a global phenomenon and is not limited to the US and other English-speaking nations (Pescosolido et al. 2013). The aim of this study was to examine differences in mental health stigma between an English-speaking in the United States and a South American Spanish-speaking population. Given the exploratory nature of this cross-cultural study, we hypothesized that there would be unspecified differences in stigma perception between populations. In addition, we hypothesized that high levels of stigma would predict high levels of psychological distress, and the relationship between these variables would differ between populations. Analysis (N = 98) revealed that there was no significant difference in stigma between populations, t (96) = 1.18, p = .239, suggesting cultural equivalence of stigma. Contrary to expectations, higher stigma levels were found to predict lower levels of psychological distress (r = .30, p = .003), with the relationship between stigma and distress stronger in the Spanish-speaking population, r = -.39, p = .005, than the English-speaking population, r = -.20, p = .308. Implications of these findings and directions for future research will be discussed.