Why Culture and Context Matters: Examining Differences in Mental Health Stigma and Social Distance Between Latino Individuals in the United States and Mexico

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This study examines the influence of cultural context on social distance and perceptions of stigma towards mental health conditions among Latino populations in Houston, TX, USA and Mexico City, Mexico. We employed a community-based experimental vignette survey to assess perceptions towards individuals experiencing symptoms of alcohol misuse, depression, and psychosis. Participants (n = 513) from Houston and Mexico City were asked about their willingness to accept community members experiencing mental health symptoms in various social roles, their perceptions of stigma related to these symptoms, anticipated danger, possible positive outcomes, and the community member’s ability to change. Findings demonstrate significant differences in stigma perceptions between Latino respondents in the US and in Mexico. Houston participants reported lower public stigma and perceived dangerousness of someone with mental health concerns compared to respondents in Mexico City. Furthermore, the cultural context may influence the association between various dimensions of stigma, with some inverse relationships occurring based on location of data collection. Findings illuminate the complex interplay between cultural context, mental health symptoms, and stigma, and underscores the need for culturally nuanced interventions to reduce mental health stigma and promote service utilization in Latino communities.


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Journal of Immigrant and Minority Health