Adolescents, depression symptoms, acculturation, psychological counseling, emotional help


Background: The objectives of this study are 1) to depict the prevalence of moderate depressive symptoms (MDS) in adolescents living in California, 2) to examine the role of acculturation in reported MDS, and 3) to identify any relationship between acculturation, “needing emotional help,” and “receiving psychological or emotional counseling,” as reported by adolescents with MDS. Methods: We analyzed data from a cross-sectional population-based telephone survey for adolescents who completed the California Health Interview Survey (CHIS) in 2007, 2009, and 2011-2012. The primary predictor variable was level of acculturation. Outcome variables were 1) the presence of MDS, 2) whether participants needed help with emotional problems, and 3) whether they had received psychological or emotional counseling. Results: Of the sample (n = 9816), 6.0% had MDS; 50% of these reported needing help for emotional problems, and 30% reported receiving psychological/emotional counseling. Multivariate analysis that included the interaction effects of race/ethnicity and acculturation showed that the latter was not associated with any of the outcome variables. However, Latino adolescent with MDS and moderate acculturation were less likely to report needing help for psychological/emotional problems, compared to their White counterparts with higher acculturation. Conclusion: Our findings suggest disparities in reporting depression symptoms and receiving psychological/emotional help are not driven by adolescents’ acculturation levels. However, more studies are needed to clarify what cultural factors facilitate or inhibit moderately acculturated Latino adolescents from reporting needing help for psychological/emotional problems.