Access Type

Open Access Thesis

Date of Award

January 2013

Degree Type


Degree Name




First Advisor

Rita J. Casey


Depression is a significant mental health issue in American college students. However, as is the case for other minority students, this topic has been little studied in students of Middle Eastern background. Stigma and negative attitudes toward seeking mental health services are a big part of Middle Eastern culture, which reduces the chances that this population will seek treatment when they need it. In addition, it is important to study the relationship between ethnic identity and psychological functioning, because ethnic identity could serve as a protective factor against depression in persons of Middle Eastern descent. A strong cultural identity is thought to have that effect for persons of other minority groups in this country. The current study explored depression symptoms in Middle Eastern, African American, and Caucasian college students. No group differences were found in level of depression symptoms. As expected, Middle Eastern college students had more negative attitudes toward seeking mental health services than African American and Caucasian students. Among the African Americans and Caucasians, stronger ethnic identity was associated with lower presence of depression symptoms when controlling for gender, age, and social desirability; however, this relationship was not significant among the Middle Eastern and African American students. Research on minority college students could provide greater insight into their current needs, allowing policy makers to implement appropriate interventions for minority individuals. These findings indicate that Middle Eastern students may have characteristics related to their mental health that are not well represented by most research in the more commonly studied ethnic groups among American college students.

Included in

Psychology Commons