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Mentoring and depressive symptoms of youth: Examining prospective and interactive associations with mentoring relationship quality

NCJ Number
American Journal of Community Psychology Volume: online Dated: 2022
Date Published

This article details a study into investigate associations between youth depressive symptoms and mentoring relationship quality.



The current study used a sample of 2,003 youth participating in mentoring programs across the country (Mage = 12.32, SD = 1.42, 55.1% female) from diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds (39.1% Black, 23.6% White, 22.1% Hispanic, 3.3% Native American or Alaskan Native, .4% Asian or Pacific Islander, 1.8% other, and 9.7% Multi-Ethnic) to investigate associations between youth depressive symptoms and mentoring relationship quality.

A significant body of research has demonstrated that mentoring relationships support positive youth development. The quality of the mentoring relationship has been identified as a predictor of positive youth outcomes; however, limited research has examined how engagement in a mentoring program may be related to youth depressive symptoms specifically. In addressing this issue, the results of the current study revealed that: (1) mean depressive symptoms decreased after participation in a mentoring program; (2) several, but not all, relationship quality indicators predicted change in depressive symptoms; (3) baseline levels of depressive symptoms negatively predicted indicators of relationship quality; and (4) associations between several relationship quality indicators and follow-up depressive symptoms differed by baseline levels of depressive symptoms. These findings highlight the potential benefits of mentoring programs to youth and the need to provide mentors with support around building relationships with youth, especially those experiencing depressive symptoms. (Publisher abstract provided)

Date Published: January 1, 2022