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African American Teens Who Embrace Ethnic Identity Have Better Mental Health

Gary Bailey. Photo courtesy of Simmons College.

Gary Bailey. Photo courtesy of Simmons College.

Having ethnic pride may be the key to better mental health for African American teens, according to a study from Northwestern University, Loyola University Chicago and Walden University.

The study looked at the relationship  between racial identity, self-esteem and mental health in more than 250 African American young people in urban, low income areas, according to this article from

“Part of what has been so important to the African American community during the time of apartheid (in the United States) was a healthy sense of self,”  explained Gary Bailey, MSW, ACSW, associate professor at the Simmons College School of Social Work.

“Despite what others told you, there was a sense in your own community that you had value, that and that came from within one’s family, one’s church.”

To find out more about the National Association of Social Worker’s position on racial issues read Institutional Racism and the Social Work Profession: A Call to Action.

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  1. I assume ethnic pride is equally important for the psychological health of young Caucasian men.

  2. Today’s young teens have a sense of pride, but the concerns comes from their environment, and whether they are able to move away from an environment (primarily African-American) to another environment that stimulates their mindset, and open their minds to other possibilities, that empowers them to increase self-confidence, that gains them the pride of their heritage.

    Our pride within our community which exists with jealousy, African-Americans (Blacks) that degrade others for the way someone look or dress,and rob and kill each other is no longer acceptable. This brings down anyone’s pride within our culture. Teaching the value of money and how to make it work for you so we can gain in our academic success stories. How to make sure even within the stronghold of our religious communities the importance of God’s message, to make sure our immediate families are on a solid foundation, teaching and living with integrity, and stop looking at someone to idolized, when it starts with “You”.

    Our African-American cultures extends all over the world, and not just one area within the U.S. which express themselves, which is generalizing. We are more than that, and our young people wants us to stop, come out of your homes and Church’s and show them pride, not fear, not negative language, not just saying, I will pray for you, but taking the corrective actions to continue to push ourselves forward “Say it Loud, I’m Black and I’m Proud”.

  3. Being able to embrace your ethnic roots is extremely important part of being human and celebrating the beauty of life on this earth for any person regardless of race or gender. We don’t need studies to prove this. This fact is evident in the diversity and strong beliefs in individual culture that humanity has held on to and passed down throughout all races since the dawn of time. Studies do help prove the point though :-)

    Think of adoptees, especially in interracial adoptions whose original heritages are sealed (with the acception of those who fall under ICWA) and may never know who they are or where they come from. In fact, I have an African-American aquaintance whose Amended Birth Certificate says she’s white! The impacts of this as well as the current lack of adequate counseling to help adoptive parents help their kids embrace their roots can be found here: .

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