Date of Completion


Embargo Period




Major Advisor

Michelle K. Williams, PhD

Associate Advisor

Crystal L. Park

Associate Advisor

Diane M. Quinn

Field of Study



Doctor of Philosophy

Open Access

Open Access


Few studies have explored the link between religion and mental health, especially among ethnic minority groups in the U.S. Although African Americans and Latinos have been found to rely heavily on their religious faith in order to cope with adversities in their lives, both ethnic groups have been traditionally underrepresented in this line of work. Thus, little is known about the religion-mental health link as it applies to these minority groups.

The aims of the present study were as follows: (1) to determine whether various forms of religion (self-rated religiosity, church attendance, and religious beliefs and practices) would be predictive of fewer psychiatric symptoms among African American and Latino individuals with mental illness, (2) to determine whether the religion-mental health link would remain significant even after controlling social support and other demographic variables, and (3) to determine whether the religion-mental health link would be moderated by the extent to which individuals internalize the stigma of mental illness.

One hundred and four African American and Latino individuals with a history of mental illness, substance abuse, and/or psychological treatment completed a self-report questionnaire. Study results indicated that out of the three religious measures used in the present study, only self-rated religiosity negatively and significantly predicted lower psychiatric symptomatology. This association was significant even after social support and other variables (e.g., income, gender) were controlled for in the study. Stigma internalization was also shown to positively and significantly predict psychiatric symptoms, as well as moderate the religion- mental health association.