Charlotte Haigh, a second-year Marriage and Family Therapy student, won first place in the Education category in the 2017 CSULB Student Research Competition. She presented her research on the impact of self-esteem, desire for lighter skin, and gender on the mental health of university students in Thailand.
Charlotte’s study included 761 students from two universities in Thailand. Key findings included: (i) Although the desire for lighter skin is common among Thai university students, this desire alone does not significantly impact their mental health; (ii) Low self-esteem was found to be a more significant predictor of depression, anxiety, and stress than the desire for lighter skin alone; (iii) Thai university students were found to experience academic and life stage pressures (i.e. entering the workforce) that may supersede the importance of physical appearance; (iv) Lastly, the study’s findings support previous research, showing that male college students do not necessarily experience lower levels of psychological distress than females, but that they are less likely to seek support for these issues.