Year of Graduation


Document Type




Directing Professor

Bonnie Bowers and Caroline Mann


Mental health stigma is prevalent among U.S. minority groups. Minorities are found to have higher stigma towards mental illnesses and exhibit lower help-seeking behaviors compared to the majority (Narendorf, et. al, 2018). Among these minority groups, Asians and Pacific Islanders are two populations often grouped together despite their cultural differences. Due to this generalization, many of the data for Pacific Islanders are overlooked by their Asian counterparts. To address the differences between the two groups, the current study compares Asians and Pacific Islanders against each other on their attributions and attitudes towards mental health stigma and help-seeking behaviors. Participants (N = 100) from a college on Saipan completed an online survey consisting of a vignette for Pacific Islanders, Attitudes Towards Mental Health Problems Scale (ATMHP), and Barriers to Seeking Mental Health Counseling Scale (BSMHCS). The current study found that Asians had higher levels of external stigma but did not differ from Pacific Islanders on internal stigma. Unlike previous studies, both ethnic groups attributed mental illness to neurological reasons and the normal ups and downs of life rather than spiritual reasons and both populations preferred professional therapy. Both groups did not differ on the barriers they faced in mental health help-seeking. However, unlike previous studies, participants did not find accessibility as a barrier but rather discomfort with emotions, cultural barriers, and public opinions (external stigma) were viewed as barriers. Data gathered in the survey can further the limited research on Pacific Islanders and mental health stigma. Results could also help organizations provide more targeted help towards each group rather than one service for two different populations.

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Psychology Commons