Author ORCID Identifier

Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science



First Advisor

Nao Hagiwara

Second Advisor

Eric Benotsch

Third Advisor

Tiffany Green


Though mental health issues are prevalent in Black young adults, they underutilize mental healthcare services. This research examined the role of feature-based discrimination in mental healthcare (under)utilization. Study 1, a secondary analysis of the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health, provided no evidence supporting a link between skin tone and mental healthcare utilization, when controlling for depression diagnosis. However, when controlling for depression symptoms, there was a trend such that Black young adults with darker, as opposed to lighter, skin tone utilized healthcare less. Study 2, an experimental study with 33 Black college students, showed 73% of the sample preferred a Black counselor. Additionally, they preferred counselors with darker skin, wider nose, and thicker lips, compared to counselors with lighter skin, narrower nose, and thinner lips. These findings suggest the importance of taking into account Afrocentric features and its social consequences when assessing health-related behaviors in Black Americans.


© Randl B. Dent

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