Does commitment to an ethnic identity enhance or jeopardize psychological well-being? Using data from a study of Southeast Asian "Boat People", this study examined the mental health effects of ethnic identification as the former refugees confronted common resettlement stressors in Canada-unemployment, discrimination and lack of fluency in the dominant society language. The study team administered a questionnaire to 647 respondents covering ethnic identification, demographic and employment information, language fluency, experiences with discrimination, and depressive affect. Context helped determine the relationship between ethnic identification and depressive affect. When the Southeast Asians encountered racial discrimination or unemployment, ethnic identity attachment amplified the risk of depressive affect. By contrast, a strongly held ethnic identity provided a psychological advantage for individuals experiencing difficulties with the dominant language. © 2005.
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