JOURNAL ARTICLE

Ethnic identity, perceived support, and depressive symptoms among racial minority immigrant-origin adolescents

Pratyusha Tummala-Narra
American Journal of Orthopsychiatry 2015, 85 (1): 23-33
25330020
Although racial minority immigrant-origin adolescents compose a rapidly growing sector of the U.S. population, few studies have examined the role of contextual factors in mental health among these youth. The present study examined the relationship between ethnic identity and depressive symptoms, the relationship between perceived social support and depressive symptoms, and the relationship between sociodemographic factors (ethnicity, gender, and socioeconomic status) and depressive symptoms, among a culturally diverse group of adolescents. In addition, the potential moderating role of nativity status (U.S. born vs. foreign born) was examined in these associations. Participants were 9th and 10th graders (N = 341; 141 foreign born and 200 U.S. born, from Asian, Latino(a), and Afro-Caribbean backgrounds), attending an urban high school. Consistent with previous research, ethnic identity was negatively associated with depressive symptomatology in the overall sample. Nativity status did not moderate the relationship between ethnic identity and depressive symptoms. Among the sociodemographic factors examined, only gender was associated with depressive symptoms, with girls reporting higher levels of depressive symptoms compared with boys. Contrary to expectations, there were no differences in the degree of depressive symptomatology between U.S.-born and foreign-born adolescents, and perceived social support was not associated with fewer depressive symptoms. The findings suggest the importance of gender and ethnic identity in mental health and, more broadly, the complexity of social location in mental health outcomes among U.S.-born and foreign-born immigrant-origin adolescents. Implications for research and interventions with immigrant-origin adolescents are discussed.

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