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07-01-2020 | ORIGINAL PAPER | Uitgave 3/2020

Mindfulness 3/2020

Is Self-Compassion Protective Among Sexual- and Gender-Minority Adolescents Across Racial Groups?

Mindfulness > Uitgave 3/2020
Abra J. Vigna, Julie Poehlmann-Tynan, Brian W. Koenig
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The online version of this article (https://​doi.​org/​10.​1007/​s12671-019-01294-5) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.

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Sexual- and/or gender-minority (SGM) youth report rates of suicidality, depression, and anxiety that are two to three times greater than those of their sexual- and gender-majority peers. Mounting evidence suggests that self-compassion can moderate the impact of stress on anxiety, depression, and suicidality. However, the potential limitations of self-compassion in overcoming adversity associated with minority status has not yet been investigated among youth with multiply marginalized identities (i.e., young people who find themselves at the intersection of more than one stigmatized group).


Informed by the minority stress hypothesis and intersectionality theory and using models of moderated moderation as well as group mean and proportion comparisons, this secondary data analysis (n = 1572) compared buffering effects of self-compassion across youth experiencing varying degrees of marginalization.


In this study, although white sexual- and/or gender-minority adolescents reported higher rates of general peer victimization and anxiety than did counterparts of color, and to a moderate effect (Hedges’ g = .31 and .30, respectively), results of the Pearson’s chi-squared tests affirmed that sexual- and/or gender-minority students of color reported two to three times the frequency of exposure to structural discrimination. Results of the conditional process analysis suggest that the distinction across race within SGM status appeared in how self-compassion moderated the impact of identity on depressive symptoms compared with the reference group (i.e., white sexual- and gender-majority students). We did not find significant differences in how self-compassion moderated the relationship between sexual identity and depressive symptoms across racial groups.


There is evidence to suggest that the relationship between self-compassion and mental health may differ according to degree of exposure to structural discrimination.

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