Neighborhood and family intersections: Prospective implications for Mexican American adolescents' mental health

Rebecca M.B. White, Mark W. Roosa, Katharine H. Zeiders

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Scopus citations


We present an integrated model for understanding Mexican American youth mental health within family, neighborhood, and cultural contexts. We combined two common perspectives on neighborhood effects to hypothesize that (a) parents' perceptions of neighborhood risk would negatively impact their children's mental health by disrupting key parenting and family processes, and (b) objective neighborhood risk would alter the effect parent and family processes had on youth mental health. We further incorporated a cultural perspective to hypothesize that an ethnic minority group's culture-specific values may support parents to successfully confront neighborhood risk. We provided a conservative test of the integrated model by simultaneously examining three parenting and family process variables: maternal warmth, maternal harsh parenting, and family cohesion. The hypothesized model was estimated prospectively in a diverse, community-based sample of Mexican American adolescents and their mothers (N = 749) living in the southwestern United States. Support for specific elements of the hypothesized model varied depending on the parenting or family process variable examined. For family cohesion results were consistent with the combined neighborhood perspectives. The effects of maternal warmth on youth mental health were altered by objective neighborhood risk. For harsh parenting, results were somewhat consistent with the cultural perspective. The value of the integrated model for research on the impacts of family, neighborhood, and cultural contexts on youth mental health are discussed, as are implications for preventive interventions for Mexican American families and youth.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)793-804
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Family Psychology
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • Culture
  • Mental health
  • Mexican American
  • Neighborhoods
  • Parenting

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Psychology

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