Ethnic Pride Key to Black Teen Mental Health

Physorg, December 1, 2009

Ethnic pride may be as important as self-esteem to the mental health of young African-American adolescents, according to a new study in the Nov/Dec issue of the journal Child Development.

The empirical study is one of the first to look at the effects of self-esteem and of racial identity and to separately explore their effects by gender. The study specifically measures racial identity in terms of ethnic pride.

“Our findings indicate that–regardless of self-esteem–as feelings of ethnic pride go up, mental health tends to increase as well,” said psychologist Jelani Mandara, associate professor at Northwestern University School of Education and Social Policy. {snip}

Mandara is co-author with Maryse H. Richards and Noni Gaylord-Harden (Loyola University Chicago) and Brian Ragsdale (Walden University) of “The Effects of Changes in Racial Identity and Self-Esteem on Changes in African American Adolescents’ Mental Health.”

{snip}

The new study speaks to the importance of ethnic pride separate and apart from self-esteem. “Psychologists have been theorizing about this for years,” Mandara said. “Our empirical evidence indicates that we’ll see African-American teens with fewer depressive symptoms if we pay more attention to building ethnic pride.”

It’s easier to build ethnic pride than it is to influence self-esteem, he added.

{snip}

[Editor’s Note: The abstract for “The Effects of Changes in Racial Identity and Self-Esteem on Changes in African American Adolescents’ Mental Health,” by Jelani Mandara, et al., can be read here. The full text is available from this page in both HTML and PDF formats.]

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