Methods: African American youth sample (n=810, mean age =15, SD =1.44, 52 percent females) from the National Survey of American Life-Adolescent Supplement was used for the current study. Hierarchical regression models were used to test our hypotheses. We examined the impact of racial discrimination, parental support, and REI dimensions on depressive symptoms, controlling for demographics. Additionally, we examined the interaction effects between each of the REI dimensions and racial discrimination on depressive symptoms. The REI dimensions included, (1) racial centrality (the importance attached to the racial-ethnic group), (2) private regard (positive affect toward oneself as a member of the racial-ethnic group), and (3) public regard (perceived view of the racial-ethnic group by others).
Results: Eighty-six percent of the participants reported some racial discrimination experiences in their day-to-day life (e.g., treated as less respect). Our findings indicated that racial discrimination was positively associated with depressive symptoms (β = .151, p<.001) [1st model]. Both fathers’ (β =. -.094, p=.028) and mothers’ support (β = -.184, p<.001) were negatively associated with depressive symptoms (2nd model). Among the REI dimensions, private regard (β = -.140, p=.002) and racial centrality (β = .097, p=.033) were significantly associated with depressive symptoms (3rd model). While public regard had no significant main effect, it moderated the effect of racial discrimination on depressive symptoms (β = .094, p<.05). Demographics (i.e., gender, age, family income) were controlled in the models. The final model explained 12% of the variance in depressive symptoms.
Conclusions and Implications: Our finding indicated high frequency of racial discrimination which had a significant negative impact on depressive symptoms among African American youth. Further, REI dimensions impacted depressive symptoms independently from or interactively with racial discrimination. REI may be one important mechanism to understand variations in psychological well-being of African American youth especially in the context of racial discrimination. REI may function to protect African American youth from, or to increase their vulnerabilities associated with racial discrimination. We will discuss implications for culturally competent social work research and practice, including how to address race-relevant discrimination and REI domains that affect African American youth’s mental well-being.