Race and Social Problems

, Volume 9, Issue 2, pp 102–114 | Cite as

Religious Social Support, Discrimination, and Psychiatric Disorders Among Black Adolescents

  • Meredith O. HopeEmail author
  • Shervin Assari
  • Yasmin C. Cole-Lewis
  • Cleopatra Howard Caldwell


Discrimination is a common experience for black adolescents that can jeopardize their mental health. However, research suggests that various dimensions of religion have positive effects on their mental health and well-being. Additionally, exposure to discrimination may vary by youths’ socio-demographic factors, such as gender and ethnicity. Numerous studies identify the protective effects of emotional and tangible religious social support on the mental health of black adults reporting discrimination. Conversely, fewer studies address the influence of emotional and tangible religious social support on mental health for black adolescents experiencing discrimination, while also accounting for socio-demographic heterogeneity among black adolescents. Historically, religion has played an instrumental role in the diverse narratives of the black Diaspora in the United States. It is important to account for its potential protective effects for black youth. Examining these factors using a compensatory risk and resilience model, our study finds that black adolescents who experience discrimination are also more likely to meet criteria for a psychiatric disorder. Additionally, those who report experiencing religious social support are less likely to meet criteria for a psychiatric disorder. These findings were not moderated by the socio-demographic factors of gender or ethnicity. To date, this investigation is one of the first to examine the effect of different types of religious social support in the presence of discrimination on psychiatric illness among African American and Caribbean black adolescents.


Religion Social support Discrimination Psychiatric disorder Black youth 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Meredith O. Hope
    • 1
    Email author
  • Shervin Assari
    • 2
    • 3
  • Yasmin C. Cole-Lewis
    • 2
    • 4
  • Cleopatra Howard Caldwell
    • 3
    • 5
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyHuntingdon CollegeMontgomeryUSA
  2. 2.Department of PsychiatryUniversity of MichiganAnn ArborUSA
  3. 3.Center for Research on Ethnicity, Culture and HealthUniversity of Michigan School of Public HealthAnn ArborUSA
  4. 4.Department of PsychologyUniversity of MichiganAnn ArborUSA
  5. 5.Department of Health Behavior and Health EducationUniversity of Michigan School of Public HealthAnn ArborUSA

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