ISSN 0439-755X
CN 11-1911/B

›› 2009, Vol. 41 ›› Issue (10): 967-979.

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The Effect Mechanism of Stigma Perception on Mental Health Among Migrant Children in Beijing

LIN Xiu-Yun;FANG Xiao-Yi;LIU Yang;LAN Jing   

  1. (1School of Psychology, Beijing Normal University, Beijing 100875, China)
    (2Institution of Psychology and Behavior, Beihang University, Beijing, 100191, China)
  • Received:2009-01-21 Revised:1900-01-01 Published:2009-10-30 Online:2009-10-30
  • Contact: FANG Xiao-Yi

Abstract: Currently, there are more than 140 million rural-to-urban migrants in China and the number keeps growing. An estimate of 19.8 million children under 18 years migrated with their parents from rural areas to the cities Migrant children face a great deal of issues in living and schooling in city and possess a number of mental health problems.
Literature suggests that it is common that migrant children are stigmatized by urban residents. A majority of migrant children in Beijing claimed that they were disdained by Beijing citizens and their schoolmates (Beijing natives) kept away from them. Stigma could be a life stressor, theory of Cognitive Phenomenological Transac-tional pointed out that stress could affect individual’s mental health through mediators, such as, coping, cogni-tive appraisal, and self-esteem. The objective of this study was to investigate the relationship between stigma perception and mental health among migrant children in Beijing. We tested three hypotheses: (1) Migrant chil-dren perceive great stigma, and those with high mobility perceive greater stigma than those who with low fluid-ity; (2) Migrant children demonstrate poor mental health, and those with high mobility have significantly worse mental health than those with low fluidity; (3) there is a significant relationship between stigma perception and mental health; coping and self-esteem act as mediators in the relationship between stigma perception and mental health.
We recruited 1164 migrant children in Beijing, we also recruited 525 Beijing children and 568 rural chil-dren as comparison. Data of demographic information, migration history, stigma perception, coping, self-esteem, and mental health problems (including social anxiety, loneliness, depression etc.) were collected through a self-administrated questionnaire. The data were analyzed using analysis of variance (ANOWA), Pearson Corre-lations and Structure Equation Model (SEM).
Data revealed that migrant children perceived great stigma from urban people around them, and the levels of stigma perception were significantly differ by types of schools as well as levels of mobility. Migrant children in private migrant schools reported remarkably higher level of stigma perception than those their counterparts in public schools. Migrant children with high mobility reported higher level of stigma perception than their coun-terparts with low mobility. There was significant relationship between stigma perception and mental health con-ditions, between stigma perception and coping, and between stigma and self-esteem, as well as between self-esteem and mental health in Structure Equation Model, we found stigma perception affected mental health directly and indirectly through coping and self-esteem, which suggest that coping and self-esteem could be the mediator between stigma perception and mental health.
In conclusion, among migrant children, stigma perception affects mental health significantly and induces problems like social anxiety, loneliness and depression. However, the effect can be mediated by coping and self-esteem. The results of this study suggested that the Theory of Cognitive Phenomenological transactional could be used in migrant children’s stigma perception intervention, to reduce their stigma perception, change their coping and enhance their self-esteem, and may improve migrant children’s mental health status.

Key words: migrant children, stigma perception, mental health, coping ways, self-esteem