Publication Date

Spring 2022

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)




Christine Ma-Kellams


culture, mental health disorder, mental illness, stigma

Subject Areas



The stigma of mental illness can often lead to the afflicted individual not receiving the professional help they need and thereby worsening their condition, which has serious consequences both for themselves and their loved ones. Moreover, stigma surrounding mental illness varies from culture to culture. This research study highlighted the significance of studying stigma and long-term coping with a loved one’s mental health issues across cultures. Differences in perceptions of mental health based on the type of culture and (in)experience of growing up with someone who had mental health issues were tested. I predicted that there were main effects of both culture and exposure, such that participants from collectivist cultures would have more negative perceptions towards mental health and those who did not grow up with someone who had mental health issues would have more negative perceptions towards mental health. I also predicted an interaction: while individualists would have relatively positive perceptions regardless of experience, collectivists would have negative perceptions where there is no experience but relatively positive perceptions if there is experience growing up with someone who had mental health issues. Additionally, I tested that these effects were held when controlling for socioeconomic status, mental health education, mental health support, and gender. The results of the study only supported a main effect of culture on anger. Additional analyses found that there were interaction effects among culture and mental health support and culture and mental health familiarity for both personal responsibility and anger. Overall, while the study did not bridge the gap between cultural stigma and coping, it did contribute to the literature by indicating how strongly culture and stigma influence mental health perceptions, and how individuals with past experiences of mental illness compared to those without past experiences of mental illness.