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Neighborhoods, Social Support, and African American Adolescents' Mental Health Outcomes: A Multilevel Path Analysis


  • This research was supported by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, Grant DA07484 to the third author. We thank the youth for participating in this study and the Flint Community Schools for their support. We also thank the four anonymous reviewers for their helpful comments on previous versions of this manuscript.

Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Noelle M. Hurd, Department of Psychology, University of Virginia, 102 Gilmer Hall, P.O. Box 400400, Charlottesville, VA 22904-4400. Electronic mail may be sent to


This study explored how neighborhood characteristics may relate to African American adolescents' internalizing symptoms via adolescents' social support and perceptions of neighborhood cohesion. Participants included 571 urban, African American adolescents (52% female; M age = 17.8). A multilevel path analysis testing both direct and indirect effects of neighborhood characteristics on adolescents' mental health outcomes was conducted. Higher neighborhood poverty and unemployment rates predicted greater internalizing symptoms via lower cumulative social support and perceptions of neighborhood cohesion. In contrast, higher concentrations of African American and residentially stable residents in one's neighborhood related to fewer internalizing symptoms among adolescent residents via greater cumulative social support and perceptions of neighborhood cohesion. Implications of these findings are discussed.