Coping with perceived discrimination: does ethnic identity protect mental health?

J Health Soc Behav. 2003 Sep;44(3):318-31.


Using data (N = 2,109) from a large-scale epidemiological study of Filipino Americans, this study examines whether ethnic identity is linked to mental health and reduces the stress of discrimination. The strength of identification with an ethnic group is found to be directly associated with fewer depressive symptoms. In other words, having a sense of ethnic pride, involvement in ethinic practices, and cultural commitment to one's racial/ethnic group may protect mental health. Self-reports of racial/ethnic discrimination over a lifetime and everyday discrimination in the past month not due to race/ethnicity are associated with increased levels of depressive symptoms. Yet ethnic identity buffers the stress of racial/ethnic discrimination. This suggests that ethnic identity is a coping resource for racial/ethnic minorities that should not be overlooked. The strong link between ethnic identity and better mental health has implications for social-psychological theories on race/ethnicity and assimilation in the United States.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Depression / ethnology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Male
  • Mental Health*
  • Middle Aged
  • Philippines / ethnology
  • Prejudice*
  • Social Identification*
  • United States