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<p>Second-generation (U.S.-born) Asian American youth are at higher risk of developing mental health (MH) symptoms relative to first-generation (foreign-born) youth (Salas-Wright et al., 2016). One path that may differ across generations is response to ethnic discrimination, which is linked to higher MH symptoms (Shrake & Ree, 2004). Public ethnic self-esteem (ESE), one’s self-esteem relative to how one perceives outgroup evaluation of their ethnic group, is one possible mechanism linking ethnic discrimination and MH; however, the situations in which it acts as a risk or protective factor are unclear (Luhtanen & Cooper, 1992; Neblett Jr. et al., 2012). We examined the mediating role of public ESE on the relationship between ethnic discrimination and MH symptoms, moderated by immigrant generation, in a sample of 699 Vietnamese American (VA) adolescents (M=15.54 years). Conditional process analysis revealed that the indirect effect of ethnic discrimination on MH symptoms through public ESE is positive for second-generation VAs (point estimate: 0.21, 95% CI=0.06 to 0.40), but not significantly different for first-generation VAs (point estimate: -0.11, 95% CI=-0.42 to 0.16). Thus, higher ethnic discrimination predicts lower public ESE (beta=-0.12, p=.002), yet lower public ESE seems to predict higher MH symptoms only in second-generation VAs. Implications and future research include understanding when public ESE is a risk factor and resulting strategies to prevent MH symptoms when ethnic discrimination is a concern for VA youth.</p>
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