Graduation Year

2009

Document Type

Ed. Specalist

Degree

Ed.S.

Degree Granting Department

Psychological and Social Foundations

Major Professor

Shannon M. Suldo, Ph.D.

Keywords

Social support, Psychopathology, Life satisfaction, Academic achievement, Early adolescence

Abstract

The present study examined the relationships among perceived social support, mental health, and achievement in early adolescents, via analysis of an archival data set consisting of 390 middle school students. Specifically of interest was how various sources of social support (i.e., parent, classmate, and teacher) independently and uniquely predicted pathology (i.e., internalizing and externalizing symptoms) and wellness (i.e., life satisfaction) in youth. This study also examined the role of gender in the relationship between social support and mental health outcomes in order to delineate the specific types of support most salient to boys versus girls. Finally, this study explored the protective nature of high student academic achievement in the relationship between social support and mental health in order to determine if academic achievement moderated the relationship between social support and mental health. Results indicated that social support from all sources was inversely associated with both internalizing and externalizing problems, and associated in a positive manner with life satisfaction and achievement. Social support was a significant predictor of all mental health outcomes, with social support and life satisfaction evidencing the strongest relationship. The strength and magnitude of the associations between perceived support from various sources and student mental health were consistent across gender groups, evidencing no moderating effect. Academic achievement moderated the direction and strength of the relationships between externalizing behavior and (a) classmate support, and (b) parent support, respectively. Implications for school psychologists and directions for future research are discussed.

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