Ethnic identity expressed in clothing is good for adolescents' mental health

Apr 15, 2008

Young people who dress according to the customs of their own ethnic group are less likely to have subsequent mental health problems than those who don't, suggests research in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health.

The findings are based on just under 1000 white British and Bangladeshi 11 to 14 year olds in East London schools, where levels of population diversity are among the highest in the UK.

In 2001 the pupils were quizzed about their culture, social life, and health. They were surveyed again two years later, focusing on their mental health.

The findings showed that having friends from their own and other cultures (integrated friendships) or only having friends from their own culture made no difference to mental health.

But clothing choices did.

Bangladeshi pupils who wore traditional clothing were significantly less likely to have mental health problems than those whose style of dress was a mix of traditional and white British/North American tastes.

When this was broken down by gender, this only held true for the girls.

But white British pupils who chose to wear a mix of clothes from their own and other cultures enjoyed relatively good mental health.

Adolescents are particularly vulnerable to mental health problems, say the authors, and their identity is often bound up in clothing and friendship choices.

Cultural integration is the healthiest option for young people living in a multicultural society, but pressures to change lifestyle, attitudes, or behaviours can be very stressful, they say.

But retaining cultural identity through clothing may be important for good mental health, they conclude.

Source: British Medical Journal

Explore further: Walking or cycling to work improves wellbeing, researchers find

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

120,000 troubled families in UK?

May 21, 2012

The reliability of figures used as the basis for the Coalition’s ‘Troubled Families’ program is questioned in new research published by academics at the University of Bristol. The government claim ...

Diabetes becomes a disease of the young

Jun 27, 2011

Some people say aiming to look sleek in your swimsuit or wedding duds is the biggest motivator for losing weight. But Mike Durbin's incentive for dropping pounds beats all.

Recommended for you

Vitamin E intake critical during 'the first 1,000 days'

2 hours ago

Amid conflicting reports about the need for vitamin E and how much is enough, a new analysis published today suggests that adequate levels of this essential micronutrient are especially critical for the very ...

Demographics impact family physicians' care of children

Sep 12, 2014

(HealthDay)—Demographic and geographic factors influence whether family physicians provide care for children, according to a study published in the September/October issue of the Annals of Family Medicine.

Estimate: 3 in 10 NFL retirees face cognitive woes (Update)

Sep 12, 2014

Nearly three in 10 former NFL players will develop at least moderate neurocognitive problems and qualify for payments under the proposed $765 million concussion settlement, according to data prepared for ex-players' lawyers ...

User comments : 0