Mental Health

We explored the influence of mental health factors like stress and depression on patterns of substance use, educational attainment, and extracurricular involvement. Our results indicate that factors that promote mental health and alleviate stress are critical for ensuring a range of healthy development outcomes.

Some key highlights of our studies include:

  • Stresses that come along with the transition from adolescence to young adulthood can lead to depression and substance use
  • Chronic stress related to neighborhood disadvantage, poverty, and discrimination can lead to poor health outcomes for youth
  • Youth may self-medicate with alcohol and other drugs to address mental distress
  • Strong racial identity helps protect African American youth from depression and anxiety symptoms
  • Trusting and strong friendship bonds can decrease depressive symptoms

An image of mental health findings info graphic

Related publications

2018

Assari, S., Caldwell, C. H., & Zimmerman, M. A. (2018). Family Structure and Subsequent Anxiety Symptoms; Minorities’ Diminished Return. Brain Sciences, 8(6), 97. https://doi.org/10.3390/brainsci8060097
Cordova, D., Heinze, J., Hsieh, H.-F., Mistry, R., Salas-Wright, C. P., Cook, S. H., & Zimmerman, M. A. (2018). Are trajectories of psychosocial risk in adolescence linked to HIV vulnerability in emerging and young adulthood? an eighteen-year longitudinal study. AIDS (London, England), 32(4), 495–503. https://doi.org/10.1097/QAD.0000000000001717
Heinze, J. E., Cook, S. H., Wood, E. P., Dumadag, A. C., & Zimmerman, M. A. (2018). Friendship Attachment Style Moderates the Effect of Adolescent Exposure to Violence on Emerging Adult Depression and Anxiety Trajectories. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 47(1), 177–193. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10964-017-0729-x
Lee, D. B., Hope, M. O., Heinze, J. E., Cunningham, M., Caldwell, C. H., & Zimmerman, M. A. (2018). Psychological pathway from racial discrimination to the physical consequences of alcohol consumption: Religious coping as a protective factor. Journal of Ethnicity in Substance Abuse, 0(0), 1–23. https://doi.org/10.1080/15332640.2018.1540956
Varela, J., Zimmerman, M., Ryan, A., Stoddard, S., & Heinze, J. (2018). School Attachment and Violent Attitudes Preventing Future Violent Behavior Among Youth. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 088626051880031. https://doi.org/10.1177/0886260518800314

2017

Assari, S., Caldwell, C. H., & Zimmerman, M. A. (2017). Depressive Symptoms During Adolescence Predict Adulthood Obesity Among Black Females. Journal of Racial and Ethnic Health Disparities. https://doi.org/10.1007/s40615-017-0422-5
Assari, S., Moazen-Zadeh, E., Caldwell, C. H., & Zimmerman, M. A. (2017). Racial Discrimination during Adolescence Predicts Mental Health Deterioration in Adulthood: Gender Differences among Blacks. Frontiers in Public Health, 5, 104. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpubh.2017.00104
Eisman, A. B., Stoddard, S. A., Bauermeister, J. A., Caldwell, C. H., & Zimmerman, M. A. (2017). Trajectories of Organized Activity Participation Among Urban Adolescents: Associations with Young Adult Outcomes. Journal of Community Psychology, 45(4), 513–527. https://doi.org/10.1002/jcop.21863
Heinze, J. E., Stoddard, S. A., Aiyer, S. M., Eisman, A. B., & Zimmerman, M. A. (2017). Exposure to violence during adolescence as a predictor of perceived stress trajectories in emerging adulthood. Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology, 49, 31–38. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.appdev.2017.01.005

2016

Cook, S. H., Heinze, J. E., Miller, A. L., & Zimmerman, M. A. (2016). Transitions in Friendship Attachment During Adolescence are Associated With Developmental Trajectories of Depression Through Adulthood. The Journal of Adolescent Health: Official Publication of the Society for Adolescent Medicine, 58(3), 260–266. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jadohealth.2015.10.252

2015

Assari, S., Moghani Lankarani, M., Malekahmadi, M. R., Caldwell, C. H., & Zimmerman, M. A. (2015). Baseline religion involvement predicts subsequent salivary cortisol levels among male but not female Black youth. International Journal of Endocrinology and Metabolism, 13(4). https://doi.org/10.5812/ijem.31790
Assari, S., Moghani Lankarani, M., Caldwell, C. H., & Zimmerman, M. (2015). Anxiety Symptoms During Adolescence Predicts Salivary Cortisol in Early Adulthood Among Blacks; Sex differences. International Journal of Endocrinology and Metabolism, 13(4), e18041. https://doi.org/10.5812/ijem.18041
Assari, S., Smith, J. R., Caldwell, C. H., & Zimmerman, M. A. (2015). Gender Differences in Longitudinal Links between Neighborhood Fear, Parental Support, and Depression among African American Emerging Adults. Societies, 5(1), 151–170. https://doi.org/10.3390/soc5010151
Eisman, A. B., Stoddard, S. A., Heinze, J., Caldwell, C. H., & Zimmerman, M. A. (2015). Depressive symptoms, social support, and violence exposure among urban youth: A longitudinal study of resilience. Developmental Psychology, 51(9), 1307–1316. https://doi.org/10.1037/a0039501

2014

Choe, D. E., Stoddard, S. A., & Zimmerman, M. A. (2014). Developmental trajectories of African American adolescents’ family conflict: differences in mental health problems in young adulthood. Dev Psychol, 50(4), 1226–1232. https://doi.org/10.1037/a0035199
Hurd, N. M., & Zimmerman, M. A. (2014). An analysis of natural mentoring relationship profiles and associations with mentees’ mental health: considering links via support from important others. Am J Community Psychol, 53(1–2), 25–36. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10464-013-9598-y
Hurd, N. M., Varner, F. A., Caldwell, C. H., & Zimmerman, M. A. (2014). Does perceived racial discrimination predict changes in psychological distress and substance use over time? An examination among Black emerging adults. Dev Psychol, 50(7), 1910–1918. https://doi.org/10.1037/a0036438
Hurd, N. M., Stoddard, S. A., Bauermeister, J. A., & Zimmerman, M. A. (2014). Natural mentors, mental health, and substance use: Exploring pathways via coping and purpose. The American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 84(2), 190–200. https://doi.org/10.1037/h0099361

2013

Hurd, N. M., Sellers, R. M., Cogburn, C. D., Butler-Barnes, S. T., & Zimmerman, M. A. (2013). Racial identity and depressive symptoms among Black emerging adults: The moderating effects of neighborhood racial composition. Dev Psychol, 49(5), 938–950. https://doi.org/10.1037/a0028826
Hurd, N. M., Stoddard, S. A., & Zimmerman, M. A. (2013). Neighborhoods, social support, and African American adolescents’ mental health outcomes: a multilevel path analysis. Child Dev, 84(3), 858–874. https://doi.org/10.1111/cdev.12018

2012

Estrada-Martinez, L. M., Caldwell, C. H., Bauermeister, J. A., & Zimmerman, M. A. (2012). Stressors in multiple life-domains and the risk for externalizing and internalizing behaviors among african americans during emerging adulthood. J Youth Adolesc, 41(12), 1600–1612. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10964-012-9778-3

2011

Barnett, T. E., Rowley, S., Zimmerman, M. A., Vansadia, P., & Caldwell, C. (2011). A longitudinal study of household change on African American adolescents. Journal of Community Psychology, 39(3), 303–315. https://doi.org/10.1002/jcop.20434
Hurd, N. M., & Zimmerman, M. A. (2011). Natural Mentoring Relationships among Adolescent Mothers: A Study of Resilience. J Res Adolesc, 20(3), 789–809. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1532-7795.2010.00660.x

2010

2009

Hurd, N. M., Zimmerman, M. A., & Xue, Y. (2009). Negative adult influences and the protective effects of role models: A study with urban adolescents. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 38(6), 777–789.

2008

Repetto, P. B., Zimmerman, M. A., & Caldwell, C. H. (2008). A Longitudinal Study of Depressive Symptoms and Marijuana Use in a Sample of Inner-City African Americans. Journal of Research on Adolescence, 18(3), 421–447. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1532-7795.2008.00566.x

2005

Fergus, S., Zimmerman, M. A., & Caldwell, C. H. (2005). Psychosocial Correlates of Smoking Trajectories Among Urban African American Adolescents. Journal of Adolescent Research, 20(4), 423–452.
Repetto, P. B., Caldwell, C. H., & Zimmerman, M. A. (2005). A Longitudinal Study of the Relationship Between Depressive Symptoms and Cigarette Use Among African American Adolescents. Health Psychology, 24(2), 209–219. http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=psyh&AN=2005-02260-010&site=ehost-live

2004

Repetto, P. B., Caldwell, C. H., & Zimmerman, M. A. (2004). Trajectories of depressive symptoms among high risk African-American adolescents. Journal of Adolescent Health, 35(6), 468–477.
Repetto, P. B., Zimmerman, M. A., & Caldwell, C. H. (2004). A longitudinal study of the relationship between depressive symptoms and alcohol use in a sample of inner-city black youth. Journal of Studies on Alcohol, 65(2), 169–178.

2003

Schmeelk-Cone, K. H., & Zimmerman, M. A. (2003). A Longitudinal Analysis of Stress in African American Youth: Predictors and Outcomes of Stress Trajectories. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 32(6), 419–430. https://doi.org/10.1023/A:1025934301468

2002

1998