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Title page for ETD etd-10162018-134812

Type of Document Master's Thesis
Author Inniss-Thompson, Misha Nicole
URN etd-10162018-134812
Title Reducing Depressive Symptoms among African American Youth through the Strong African American Families (SAAF) Program
Degree Master of Science
Department Community Research and Action
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Velma McBride Murry Committee Chair
David Diehl Committee Member
Maury Nation Committee Member
  • family-based preventive interventions
  • self-esteem
  • mental health
  • racial socialization
Date of Defense 2018-10-03
Availability restricted
Adolescence is a critical period of vulnerability for the onset of depressive symptoms, which impacts approximately seven percent of African American youth. Family-level factors such as supportive parenting and racial socialization have been identified as two crucial determinants of positive mental health functioning among this population. Further, family-based preventive interventions hold promise for bolstering both family- and individual- level processes that can reduce the prevalence of depressive symptoms. Yet, there is a dearth of information about the mental health of African American youth within rural contexts. Thus, the present study considered the utility of a universal family-based preventive intervention, the Strong African American Families (SAAF) program, in reducing depressive symptoms among rural African American youth during the developmental transition from middle childhood to adolescence. Across three waves, a sample of 667 rural African American youth (Mage = 11.21, SD = 0.41 at time 1) provided self-reported responses about parental protective processes (racial socialization and affectively positive relationships) and youth protective processes (self-esteem and racial centrality/Black pride). Teachers provided reports of youth depressive symptoms. Independent samples t-tests revealed that, at 36-month follow up, youth in the SAAF program had significantly higher self-esteem and racial socialization than youth in the control group and that youth in the control group had higher teacher reports of depressive symptoms. Regression analyses indicated that the combination of racial socialization, self-esteem, and group assignment predicted teacher reports of youth depressive symptoms. We discuss the implications this work has on promoting positive mental health among African American youth.
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