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YPIE Scientist: Jillian Maher

Research: The Impact of Mental Health Stigma on Varying Subgroups

Mentor: Lauren Southwick

Research Location: University of Pennsylvania


This study investigates the impact of mental health stigma on diverse racial groups and immigrant communities. With mental illness rates soaring since the COVID-19 pandemic’s onset, prevalent stigma perpetuates the negative associations with mental health conditions, potentially exacerbating health challenges. Discrimination towards those with diagnosed mental illnesses remains pervasive, leading to profound impacts on self-esteem. Moreover, this stigma disproportionately affects individuals from marginalized racial and immigrant backgrounds, potentially amplifying disparities in access to care and contributing to higher rates of incarceration among those with mental health diagnoses. This study delves into the multifaceted ramifications of mental health stigma on various racial groups and immigrant communities in the backdrop of a post COVID-19 environment. Since the onset of the pandemic, there has been a noticeable surge in mental illness rates, with approximately 51 million U.S. adults reporting such conditions. The prevalence of stigma surrounding mental health manifests through ingrained beliefs and attitudes that often associate individuals with mental illness with undesirable characteristics. Understanding this intricate interplay between mental health stigma, race, and immigrant status is paramount for developing effective interventions to promote mental well-being and mitigate the adverse effects of stigma on marginalized communities. This study aims to foster a culture of empathy, education, and understanding that can work towards dismantling the barriers that perpetuate mental health stigma and fostering a more equitable and supportive environment for all individuals, regardless of their background or diagnosis.

About this Scientist:

Jillian Maher is a junior at Yonkers High School. Following graduation from high school, she hopes to pursue a bachelor’s degree in public policy and global health. In her spare time, she works as a Student Historian at the New-York Historical Society.

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