Depressive symptoms, life satisfaction, and academic persistence among Mexican American college students: The roles of Personal Growth Initiative and acculturative stress
Latinx college students experience symptoms of mental illness at higher rates than their non-Latinx peers. Such differences may be partially explained by acculturative stress, a potential consequence of individuals from different cultures encountering one another. Latinx college students are more likely to experience acculturative stress than their non-Latinx peers, and acculturative stress is theorized to lead to negative mental health consequences. Among Latinx subgroups, Mexican Americans deserve unique focus as they constitute the fastest growing Latinx subgroup in the United States and a significant portion of Mexican Americans currently attend college. A potential buffer to acculturative stress leading to negative mental health consequences lies in Personal Growth Initiative (PGI), a set of skills individuals use for self-improvement. It is theorized that individuals with more well-developed PGI skills are able to perceive stressful situations, such as acculturative stress, as opportunities for growth. In the present study, I aimed to explore risk and promotive factors for depressive symptoms, satisfaction with life, and academic nonpersistence in a sample of 303 Mexican American college students. Path analysis with observed variables indicated that acculturative stress served as a risk factor for depressive symptoms and academic nonpersistence. PGI served as a compensatory factor for all three outcomes and buffered the relationship between language competency pressures and depressive symptoms, but not the relationship between bicultural practices conflict and depressive symptoms. Implications for researchers and practitioners are discussed.