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For more information: Kimberley A. Brooke 520-626-7952

Mental Health, self-esteem issues with Mexican-American Students linked to Anti-Ethnic Studies Legislation TUCSON (March 1, 2011) -- Bills like SB1108, SB 1169, and HB 2281 have a significant impact on the mental health of Arizona’s Mexican-American students, according to a recent study conducted by the University of Arizona’s Frances McClelland Institute for Children, Youth, and Families. The Chicano population is already at high risk for suicide and other depressive symptoms and mental health issues directly associated with the ongoing legislation attempting to ban ethnic studies in public schools, according to Andrea Romero, Ph.D. She and Anna Ochoa O’Leary, PhD., conducted an online survey with undergraduate students about their stress related to SB1108, their ethnic identity, their self-esteem, and their civic engagement. “In learning ethnic studies there is light shed upon many issues like stereotypes, dehumanization and racism,” said Maya Bernal, a student who participated in the study. “Because these studies are easily identifiable with my own and other students' lives, we can relate and feel better about ourselves in learning and understanding complex institutions. We won't and can't let anyone stop this positive forward motion of student enlightenment.” According to Dr. Ochoa O’Leary with the Department of Mexican American & Raza Studies and Dr. Romero with the Department of Family Studies and Human Development, both of the University of Arizona, “There is evidence that ethnic studies programs improve all students’ life chances by improving academic success and educational attainment.” Three relevant conclusions were drawn from their study: Students reported associated more stress, lower self-esteem, and depressive symptoms as public debate grew on the proposed anti-ethnic studies policy Youth who were engaged to campaign against the anti-ethnic studies legislation were more likely to report higher self-esteem

Students who described themselves with a positive ethnic identity, based on knowledge of one’s cultural heritage and history, reported higher self-esteem and fewer depressive symptoms This study, titled “Chicana/o Students Respond to Arizona’s Anti-Ethnic Studies Bill, SB 1108,” is in press at Aztlán: A Journal of Chicano Studies. Details of the study will also be published as a UCLA Policy Brief. The Frances McClelland Institute for Children, Youth and Families serves as a catalyst for cross-disciplinary research on children, youth, and families at the University of Arizona. Its research initiatives address questions important to the development and well-being of contemporary children, youth, and families, with the goal of improving basic understanding to enhance the lives of the people of Arizona and the world. For more information, visit The John and Doris Norton School of Family and Consumer Sciences, which is part of the UA College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS), currently consists of two divisions: Family Studies & Human Development and Retailing & Consumer Sciences. Both offer B.S., M.S., and Ph.D. degrees and are ranked among the best in the nation. Together, they host four multidisciplinary research, outreach, and education units: the Cooperative Extension, the Terry J. Lundgren Center for Retailing and Consumer Sciences, the Take Charge America Institute for Consumer Finance Education and Research, and the Frances McClelland Institute for Children, Youth, and Families. For more information, visit