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01-10-2013 | Empirical Research | Uitgave 10/2013

Journal of Youth and Adolescence 10/2013

Cultural Stressors and Mental Health Symptoms Among Mexican Americans: A Prospective Study Examining the Impact of the Family and Neighborhood Context

Journal of Youth and Adolescence > Uitgave 10/2013
Rajni L. Nair, Rebecca M. B. White, Mark W. Roosa, Katharine H. Zeiders


Studies of stress consistently have linked individuals’ experiences of stress to maladjustment, but limited attention has been given to cultural stressors commonly experienced by minority individuals. To address this, the current study examined the links between cultural stressors and prospective changes in mental health symptoms in a sample of 710 (49 % female) Mexican American youth. In addition, the moderating role of both family and neighborhood cohesion was examined. In-home interviews were completed with youth, mothers (required) and fathers (optional) to collect data on youth’s experiences of cultural stressors (discrimination and language hassles) and internalizing/externalizing behavior, and mothers’ report of family cohesion and mothers’ and fathers’ report of neighborhood cohesion. Analyses revealed that youth’s experiences of discrimination and language hassles at 5th grade were related positively to increases in internalizing symptoms at 7th grade. Additionally, youths who reported higher levels of language hassles in 5th grade experienced increases in externalizing symptoms across the 2-year span. Both family and neighborhood cohesion emerged as significant moderating factors but their impact was conditional on youth’s gender and nativity. Limitations and future implications are discussed.

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