Ethnic pride may boost African-American teens' mental health

November 13, 2009

Most adolescents who belong to an ethnic minority group wrestle not only with their self-esteem (like most teens), but also with identity issues unique to their ethnic group, such as dealing with social stigma. A new study tells us that young people's ethnic pride may affect their mental health.

The study, carried out by researchers at Northwestern University, Loyola University Chicago, and Walden University, appears in the November/December 2009 issue of the journal .

The researchers studied more than 250 African American youths from urban, low-income families in an effort to assess the unique effects of racial identity and self esteem on . They found that when young people's feelings of ethnic pride rose between 7th and 8th grades, their mental health also improved over that period, regardless of their self-esteem. Even for those with low self-esteem, the investigators found, a sense of pride in their ethnic group served as a buffer to some mental health problems. Racial identity was a stronger buffer against symptoms of depression for boys than for girls.

"These findings imply that ethnic pride is important to African American adolescents' mental health for other reasons than it simply makes them feel better about themselves as individuals," according to Jelani Mandara, associate professor of human development and social policy at Northwestern University, who was the study's lead author. "The findings also imply that ethnic pride may be as important as self-esteem to the mental health of African American . Parents, schools, and therapists should expose young people to material and environments that help foster a sense of ethnic pride."

More information: Child Development, Vol. 80, Issue 6, The Effects of Changes in Racial Identity and Self-Esteem on Changes in African American Adolescents' Mental Health by Mandara, J (Northwestern University), Gaylord-Harden, NK, and Richards, MH (Loyola University Chicago), and Ragsdale, BL (Walden University).

Source: Society for Research in Child Development (news : web)

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Game study not playing around with PTSD relief

May 26, 2017

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) patients wrestling with one of its main symptoms may find long-term relief beyond medication thanks to the work of a Western researcher.

Bouldering envisioned as new treatment for depression

May 25, 2017

A growing body of research suggests that bouldering, a form of rock climbing, can help build muscle and endurance while reducing stress—and a new study co-led by a University of Arizona doctoral student of psychology suggests ...

Study documents range of challenging meditation experiences

May 24, 2017

Meditation is increasingly being marketed as a treatment for conditions such as pain, depression, stress and addiction, and while many people achieve therapeutic goals, other meditators encounter a much broader range of experiences—sometimes ...

1 comment

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

Crucialitis
not rated yet Nov 13, 2009
Makes sense, you try to blend in. But, there are constant reminders that you stand out from the crowd. Your peers are often unintentionally ignorant to certain ethnic situations, and it always helps to have someone who can actually understand. Instead of being a lost soul, this helps to build some sort of structure to understand oneself and others.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.