I am woman: the impact of social identities on African American women's mental health

Women Health. 2001;32(4):33-59. doi: 10.1300/J013v32n04_03.


We examine the psychological impact of a range of social identities among a sample of African American women. Using data from the National Survey of Black Americans (NSBA), we find that measures of body image, role performance, discrimination, and social class position are related to mental health status. Women of lower social class standing are especially at risk for poor mental health outcomes. Having low educational attainment, low personal incomes, and less prestigious occupations is associated with a poor self-concept (self-esteem and self-efficacy). Women with low self-concepts, in turn, report poorer mental health. We argue that African American women face multilayered realities that may compromise their abilities to handle the stresses of everyday life.

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Black or African American / psychology*
  • Body Image
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Gender Identity
  • Humans
  • Mental Health*
  • Middle Aged
  • Prejudice
  • Quality of Life
  • Self Concept
  • Social Class
  • Social Identification*
  • Stress, Psychological / ethnology
  • United States
  • Women's Health*
  • Women, Working / psychology