Ethnic Identity and Mental Health in American Indian Youth

Examining Mediation Pathways Through Self-esteem, and Future Optimism

Paul R. Smokowski, Caroline B R Evans, Katie L. Cotter, Kristina C. Webber

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

34 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Mental health functioning in American Indian youth is an understudied topic. Given the increased rates of depression and anxiety in this population, further research is needed. Using multiple group structural equation modeling, the current study illuminates the effect of ethnic identity on anxiety symptoms, depressive symptoms, and externalizing behavior in a group of Lumbee adolescents and a group of Caucasian, African American, and Latino/Hispanic adolescents. This study examined two possible pathways (i.e., future optimism and self-esteem) through which ethnic identity is associated with adolescent mental health. The sample (N = 4,714) is 28.53 % American Indian (Lumbee) and 51.38 % female. The study findings indicate that self-esteem significantly mediated the relationships between ethnic identity and anxiety symptoms, depressive symptoms, and externalizing behavior for all racial/ethnic groups (i.e., the total sample). Future optimism significantly mediated the relationship between ethnic identity and externalizing behavior for all racial/ethnic groups and was a significant mediator between ethnic identity and depressive symptoms for American Indian youth only. Fostering ethnic identity in all youth serves to enhance mental health functioning, but is especially important for American Indian youth due to the collective nature of their culture.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)343-355
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Youth and Adolescence
Volume43
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - 2014
Externally publishedYes

Fingerprint

North American Indians
American Indian
optimism
ethnic identity
Self Concept
self-esteem
mediation
Mental Health
mental health
Depression
Anxiety
anxiety
adolescent
Hispanic Americans
Ethnic Groups
ethnic group
Foster Home Care
Group
Caucasian
African Americans

Keywords

  • Adolescent
  • American Indian
  • Ethnic identity
  • Mental health
  • Rural

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Social Psychology
  • Education
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)

Cite this

Ethnic Identity and Mental Health in American Indian Youth : Examining Mediation Pathways Through Self-esteem, and Future Optimism. / Smokowski, Paul R.; Evans, Caroline B R; Cotter, Katie L.; Webber, Kristina C.

In: Journal of Youth and Adolescence, Vol. 43, No. 3, 2014, p. 343-355.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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