Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



Committee Chair(s)

Rick A. Cruz


Rick A. Cruz


Germine Awad


Renee V. Galliher


Ginger Lockhart


Melanie Domenech Rodríguez


The aim of this dissertation was to investigate whether certain cultural and contextual factors influence Middle Eastern/North African (MENA) college students' mental health, alcohol/marijuana use, and experiences with mental health stigma and help seeking. Research with MENA college students is very limited, which leaves mental health providers with limited information on how to best support MENAs. MENAs report high rates of discrimination, and other research shows that many they may use religion as a way to cope with stressors such as discrimination. I examined whether religious coping might buffer the effects of discrimination on mental health outcomes. I also considered whether people' perception of discrimination as being stressful would explain the association between discrimination frequency and mental health outcomes. My results did not find either of these to be the case, however religious coping and discrimination stress did influence mental health outcomes. I also examined whether certain cultural factors (loss of face and family honor) common in MENA families may be related to students' use of alcohol and cannabis. Other research has found that when people expect positive outcomes from using substances (like being more friendly), they are more likely to use. I was interested to see whether these cultural values influence substance use through shaping their expectancies for using. This study found that these values influenced cannabis expectancies, which then influence cannabis use. Similarly, higher levels of family honor and loss of face influenced alcohol use through more positive expectancies. Lastly, I was interested to test whether these same cultural values play a role in shaping mental health stigma. I found that they do influence perceived public stigma, but not self-stigma. I also tested whether perceived stigma influences people' attitudes towards seeking help through self-stigma, but this was not the case. This dissertation added important knowledge to a growing research area and includes important suggestions for clinicians and counselors working with the MENA population.



Included in

Psychology Commons