Media language preferences and mental illness stigma among Latinx adolescents
Media—a powerful influence on mental illness stigma—varies by language and culture. Nevertheless, recent meta-analyses have demonstrated scant attention to Spanish language media as well as historically low Latinx participation in mental illness anti-stigma intervention. To better inform how to improve equity in mental health service utilization, this study assessed how language preferences in mass media influence stigma among Latinx adolescents, compared to family language and social preferences.
Sixth-graders self-identifying as Latinx self-completed assessments of mental illness knowledge/positive attitudes and desired separation from peers and adolescent vignette characters experiencing mental illness (N = 179; Texas, U.S., 2011–2012). Participants also responded to measures of language preferences (any Spanish versus only English) for consuming media (film/television, music/radio) and speaking with family (parents/grandparents), and social preferences for parties or social gatherings (Latinx versus Anglo persons). Linear regression models adjusting for student and household factors examined the associations between media and family language and social preferences on mental illness stigma.
Latinx adolescents preferring any Spanish versus English-only media reported less mental illness knowledge/positive attitudes and greater social separation from peers and vignette characters with a mental illness, net of all covariates. Family language and social preferences were not associated with any mental illness stigma outcomes.
Spanish media preference is associated with greater stigma suggesting more stigmatization may exist in Spanish- versus English-media. Ensuring anti-stigma messaging in Spanish media may reduce disparities in mental illness stigma among Latinx adolescents. These findings have implications for populations with other non-English media preferences.
KeywordsMental illness stigma Hispanic Latinx Media language preference Acculturation Spanish
The study was supported by grants #R01MH095254 and #5-T32-MH 13043 from the National Institute of Mental Health, and by the Latino Research Institute at The University of Texas at Austin.
Compliance with ethical standards
Conflict of interest
On behalf of all authors, the corresponding author states that there is no conflict of interest.
- 1.In Merriam Webster Online. “Latinx”. Merriam-Webster 2019. https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/Latinx. Accessed 3 Sept 2019
- 31.Keyes KM, Martins SS, Hatzenbuehler ML, Blanco C, Bates LM, Hasin DS (2012) Mental health service utilization for psychiatric disorders among Latinos living in the United States: the role of ethnic subgroup, ethnic identity, and language/social preferences. Soc Psychiatry Psychiatr Epidemiol 47(3):383–394CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
- 34.Granello D, Pauley P (2000) Television viewing habits and their relationship to tolerance toward people with mental illness. J Mental Health Couns 22(2):162–175Google Scholar
- 45.Hugo Lopez M, Gonzalez-Barrera A (2013) What is the future of Spanish in the United States? https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2013/09/05/what-is-the-future-of-spanish-in-the-united-states/. Accessed 2 June 2019
- 47.Hugo Lopez M (2013) What Univision’s milestone says about U.S. demographics. https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2013/07/29/what-univisions-milestone-says-about-u-s-demographics/. Accessed 2 June 2019
- 48.Univision Public Relations (2019) Univision is No. 1 Broadcast Network Among Young Adults 18-34 on Thursday and Sunday Night [press release]. Univision Communications, IncGoogle Scholar
- 49.Entertainment Industries Council Inc (2012) Analysis of English and Spanish Language Newspaper Coverage of Mental Health Issues in California. Burbank, CaliforniaGoogle Scholar
- 51.Flores A, Hugo Lopez M (2018) Among U.S. Latinos, the internet now rivals television as a source for news. Accessed 3 June 2019Google Scholar
- 53.Texas Education Agency (2012) Enrollment in Texas Public School, 2011–2012. Division of Research and Analysis, Department of Assessment and Accountability, Texas Education AgencyGoogle Scholar
- 54.Noss A (2012) Household income for states: 2010 and 2011. American Community Survey Briefs, Bureaa, U.S.C. (Ed.)Google Scholar
- 58.American Psychiatric Association (2000) Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders: DSM IV. American Psychiatric Association, Washington, DCGoogle Scholar