Does Anger Regulation Mediate the Discrimination–Mental Health Link Among Mexican-Origin Adolescents? A Longitudinal Mediation Analysis Using Multilevel Modeling

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Abstract

Although prior research has consistently documented the association between racial/ethnic discrimination and poor mental health outcomes, the mechanisms that underlie this link are still unclear. The present 3-wave longitudinal study tested the mediating role of anger regulation in the discrimination–mental health link among 269 Mexican-origin adolescents (Mage = 14.1 years, SD = 1.6; 57% girls), 12 to 17 years old. Three competing anger regulation variables were tested as potential mediators: outward anger expression, anger suppression, and anger control. Longitudinal mediation analyses were conducted using multilevel modeling that disaggregated within-person effects from between-person effects. Results indicated that outward anger expression was a significant mediator; anger suppression and anger control were not significant mediators. Within a given individual, greater racial/ethnic discrimination was associated with more frequent outward anger expression. In turn, more frequent outward anger expression was associated with higher levels of anxiety and depression at a given time point. Gender, age, and nativity status were not significant moderators of the hypothesized mediation models. By identifying outward anger expression as an explanatory mechanism in the discrimination-distress link among Latino youths, this study points to a malleable target for prevention and intervention efforts aimed at mitigating the detrimental impact of racism on Latino youths’ mental health during the developmentally critical period of adolescence.

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