Title: Mental Health and Academic Success Among Latina Emerging Adults: The Role of Culture and Gender Expectations

Faculty: Lucas Torres and Lisa Edwards

Abstract: As a significant mental health epidemic, Latina women are at increased risk for experiencing depression and other psychological problems partly because of the added burden of experiencing discrimination based on ethnicity and gender. The Latina/o population is one of the fastest growing in the U.S. and, as a group, tend to be younger than other ethnic groups. In addition to mental health disparities, academic inequalities exist such that despite increased enrollment in 2- or 4-year colleges and record numbers of degrees conferred in recent years, Latina/os still lag behind other ethnic groups. Thus, it becomes increasingly important to investigate the risk and protective factors that contribute to depression and academic success among Latina university students who may be exposed to increased cultural and gender stressors while attending a predominantly White institution (PWI). Adolescents and young adults of color are engaged in the additional developmental task of exploring their racial/ethnic and gender identity. Unfortunately, minimal research has examined how the intersection of ethnicity, culture, and gender contribute to psychological and academic well-being. Briefly, the main objectives of the current research proposal are 1) to examine a theoretical model examining the impact of discrimination, based on ethnicity and gender, on mental health and academic success and 2) to gather nuanced accounts of how Latina university students understand their intersection of race/ethnicity and gender at MU including their reactions to ethnic and gender discrimination. This work seeks to address and reduce the health and academic disparities experienced by Latina/o groups in the U.S.