Method: African American youth sample (n=572, mean age =12, SD .53, 50 percent males) from the Maryland and Adolescent Development in Context Study (MADICS) was used for the current study. We employed hierarchical regression models to test the following variable associations. Namely, we examined the association between academic self-concept and racial stressors on depression over time, controlling for demographics (gender, age, parent education, and family income) and previous grade point average. The academic self-concept, previous grade, and demographics variables were measured at wave one when youth were in sixth grade, while racial stressors and depression were measured at wave three when participants were in eighth grade.
Result: Our findings indicated that higher academic self-concept in sixth grade was negatively associated with depressive symptoms at eighth grade (β = -.31, p<.001) [1st model]. Higher grade point average at sixth grade’ (β =. -.17, p=.015) was also negatively associated with depressive symptoms (2nd model). Furthermore, racial stressor (β = .26, p<.001) was significantly associated with depressive symptoms (3rd model). There was no significant interaction between academic self-concept and racial stressor (β =.07, p>.05). Demographics (i.e., gender, age, family income) were controlled in the models. The overall model explained 21% of the variance in depressive symptoms.
Conclusions and Implications: Depression may be high among African American eighth graders. Despite the high prevalence of depression among African American middle scholars, those who develop higher academic self-concept in sixth grade may be less likely to be depressed compared with those who tend to have a lower academic self-concept. Furthermore, racial stressors that these youth encounter as they progress in schools can contribute to depression. We will discuss the implications of these findings for school social workers, including ways to help cultivate the development of higher academic self-concept and culturally appropriate ways to address racial stressors to help mitigate depression among African American youth.