OSR Journal of Student Research

Article Title

We've Always Been Like Kind of Kicked to the Curb": A Qualitative Analysis on Experiences of Discrimination and its Effects on Self-Esteem Among College Students


Cindy Mahoney


Objective: The goal of this study was to conduct a systematic review of the relationship between mental health, discrimination, and self-esteem among college students. Methods: Following the PRISMA guidelines, a total of six existing literatures was systematically analyzed. Data analytic tables were used to collect information on population and study characteristics for the first part. The focus groups were transcribed verbatim and results were thematically analyzed to identify emergent constructs. Results: There is a substantial relationship between mental health and discrimination among college students, especially within minority groups. There was a difference in self-esteem within the Asian population when utilizing family support, which affected these students’ psychological distress in regards to perceived racial discrimination. Discrimination was associated with physiological distress within the Latino population, and African Americans obtained the highest mean perceived stigma. Focus group results were confirmed similar trends. Students of African American, Asian, and Latino groups shared the same discriminatory experiences when being of darker skin color. For example, a student said, “One time during class we were choosing groups and I heard people say that the Saudi Arabs are lazy and only cheat.” “It made me feel so low.” “No one asked me to be in their groups.” As such, it can be seen that such discriminatory acts can negatively impact students’ self-esteem. Conclusion: The results of the study highlight the need for more public health initiative to address mental health and discrimination among college students and how it affects their self-esteem negatively, especially within minority populations.

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