Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Honors Thesis



First Advisor

Elise Edwards


"Previous research done on mental illness stigma and race and ethnicity has failed to properly recognize the complexity of identity and cultural influences and how these factors impact people’s perceptions of mental illness. These studies tend to insinuate that any differences of beliefs found between groups are due to race or ethnicity, when in fact this is an imprudent conclusion. In this thesis, a critical analysis of the literature on mental illness stigma and race and ethnicity determines that categorizing people into large homogenous groups based on race or ethnicity results in an inaccurate picture of what people believe about mental illness. Qualitative interviews conducted with young adults determined three common factors that influence beliefs about mental illness: religion, age or generation, and socioeconomic status. A quantitative survey was then used to get the perspective of a larger sample. The results of this study demonstrate differences and similarities of beliefs both within and across racial and ethnic groups for all three factors. There were few consistencies in specific beliefs within racial or ethnic groups, which supports the argument that differences in beliefs between groups cannot be explained solely by racial or ethnic differences. The results of this study show the importance of using a mixed methods approach that recognizes intersectionality by illustrating the complexity of identity, especially when it comes to the relationship between identity and beliefs about mental illness."--Provided by author.

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