Perceived Discrimination, Coping Styles, and Internalizing Symptoms Among a Community Sample of Hispanic and Somali Adolescents

Myriam Forster, Timothy Grigsby, Christopher Rogers, Jennifer Unger, Stephanie Alvarado, Bethany Rainisch, Eunice Areba

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Purpose: Perceived discrimination, perceptions of receiving differential treatment due to negative attitudes, and stereotypes about one's racial/ethnic group can increase vulnerability to depression and anxiety. Although ethnic minority youth now represent over half of the U.S. youth population, few studies have investigated potential protective factors in the relationship between perceived discrimination and mental health across diverse ethnic minority immigrant youth from different cultural backgrounds. Methods: We examined the association between perceived discrimination and past week symptoms of depression and anxiety and whether patterns of problem and emotion-focused coping moderate these relationships among Somali and Hispanic immigrant youth (N = 353) in an urban midwestern setting (mean age = 15; 53% male, 39% first generation, 75% low income). Path analysis models examined the main effects of perceived discrimination for depression and anxiety and whether problem and emotion-focused coping moderated these associations. Results: Path analysis models suggest that perceived discrimination was positively associated with past week symptoms of depression (β = .37, standard error = .06) and anxiety (β = .16, standard error = .06) across ethnicity. However, adolescents who reported high levels of discrimination and who used predominantly problem-focused coping strategies experienced fewer internalizing problems than youth who relied predominantly on emotion-focused coping strategies. Conclusions: Our findings suggest that strengthening youths’ problem-focused coping strategies in the face of discriminatory stress is a promising health promotion and risk prevention approach.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)488-495
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Adolescent Health
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Grant-in-Aid Research, Artistry and Scholarship (awarded by the University of Minnesota). Grant# 173625.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 Society for Adolescent Health and Medicine


  • Adolescence
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Discrimination
  • coping strategies

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't


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