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27-12-2017 | Empirical Research | Uitgave 5/2018

Journal of Youth and Adolescence 5/2018

Appraisal Support from Natural Mentors, Self-worth, and Psychological Distress: Examining the Experiences of Underrepresented Students Transitioning Through College

Tijdschrift:
Journal of Youth and Adolescence > Uitgave 5/2018
Auteurs:
Noelle M. Hurd, Jamie Albright, Audrey Wittrup, Andrea Negrete, Janelle Billingsley

Abstract

The current study explored whether cumulative appraisal support from as many as five natural mentors (i.e., nonparental adults from youth’s pre-existing social networks who serve a mentoring role in youth’s lives) led to reduced symptoms of depression and anxiety via improved global self-worth among underrepresented college students. Participants in the current study included 340 college students (69% female) attending a 4-year, predominantly White institution of higher education. Participants were first-generation college students, students from economically disadvantaged backgrounds, and/or students from underrepresented racial/ethnic minority groups. Participants completed surveys during the Fall and Spring of their first year of college and in the Spring of their second and third years of college. Results of the structural equation model (including gender, race/ethnicity, and extraversion as covariates) indicated that greater total appraisal support from natural mentoring relationships predicted decreases in students’ psychological distress via increases in self-worth (indirect effects assessed via boot-strapped confidence intervals; 95% CI). The strength of association between appraisal support and self-worth was not moderated by the proportion of academic natural mentors. Findings from the current study extend previous research by measuring multiple natural mentoring relationships and pinpointing supportive exchanges that may be of particular consequence for the promotion of healthy youth development. Institutional efforts to reinforce pre-existing natural mentoring relationships and encourage the onset of new natural mentoring relationships may serve to bolster the well-being and success of underrepresented students attending predominantly White universities.

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