The Relationship Between Mixed Race/Ethnicity, Developmental Assets, and Mental Health Among Youth

  • Gabriel Macasiray GarciaEmail author
  • Travis Hedwig
  • Bridget L. Hanson
  • Marny Rivera
  • Curtis A. Smith


This study assessed whether high school youth with mixed race/ethnicity are at greater risk for poor mental health conditions compared to their single race/ethnic counterparts and whether this mental health risk can be mitigated by youth developmental assets regardless of one’s race/ethnicity. Methods involved secondary data analysis of the 2009–2013 Youth Risk Behavioral Survey—Anchorage, Alaska subsample. Difference in rates of mental health conditions and mean number of developmental assets (protective factors) were assessed among three racial/ethnic groups. Logistic regression models tested whether race/ethnicity has an independent association with mental health conditions and whether there is an interaction effect between race/ethnicity and protective factors. Results show that, compared to white students, mixed race/ethnic students have significantly higher rates of poor mental health condition and significantly fewer protective factors. A significant interaction effect between race/ethnicity and protective factors was also found, showing decreasing likelihood of poor mental health condition with increasing number of protective factors among all racial/ethnic groups. However, this effect was more pronounced among white students compared to both mixed and single race/ethnicity minority students. Study findings indicate that youth of mixed race/ethnicity are more likely to be at risk for poor mental health outcomes, yet less likely to mitigate this risk even with similar number of external developmental assets as their single race/ethnic counterparts. More research is needed to further understand the differential effect of certain developmental assets among different racial/ethnic groups.


Mixed race/ethnicity Mental health Youth 


Compliance with Ethical Standards

This study was approved and granted exempt status by the authors’ institutional review board.

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© W. Montague Cobb-NMA Health Institute 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of Alaska AnchorageAnchorageUSA

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