Protective factors such as racial identity shielding African American female adolescents from mental health challenges
This thesis examines the relationship of racial identity and its dimensions (racial centrality, ideology- nationalist, assimilationist, humanist, and oppressed minority, private regard, and public regard) to mental health challenges, and the impact of racial identity on the relationship between negative life events and mental health challenges. It specifically looks at these relationships as seen in African American female adolescent participants that attended a school in a large city in the southern United States, ranging from age 15-19. This study found that there were negative correlational relationships between living in a single parent household and having parents who were separated or divorced and stressful events, stress in the last month, and anxiety in the last month. These results suggested that living in a single parent household and/or having parents that are separated or divorced might be beneficial for one’s psychological well-being. It was also discovered that youth was associated with more stressful events, while being older was associated with less stressful events. This finding was mitigated by another correlation detailing that mental health challenges went up as age increased, and future research should endeavor to further investigate the relationship of age and grade level to mental health. Finally, this study found that there was a negative correlation between racial centrality and mental health challenges, and that racial identity functioned as a buffer in the relationship between stressful events and mental health challenges. Additionally, assimilationist ideology was negatively correlated with mental health challenges, suggesting that this ideology may be beneficial for African American female adolescents’ psychological well-being as well. Future research should take to further examine these specific variables and the relationship to mental health of the African American community.