Youth mentoring yields positive mental health
The Big Brothers Big Sisters (BBBS) Mentoring Study conducted by the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) affirms the positive impact of mentoring on young lives.
Girls and boys with a mentor were significantly more likely to be confident in their academic abilities and less likely to display behavioural problems. The five-year study tracked the experiences of almost 1,000 children and teenagers registered with Big Brothers Big Sisters agencies across Canada.
Mentoring had a number of positive effects, with some differences between girls and boys. After taking into account each child’s personal background and family circumstances, results showed that:
- Mentored girls experienced significantly fewer conduct problems than non-mentored girls;
- Mentored girls were more likely to display stronger social skills than non-mentored girls;
- Mentored boys experienced significantly fewer symptoms of emotional problems and depression than non-mentored boys;
- Mentored boys experienced significantly fewer symptoms of social anxiety (pervasive fears) than non-mentored boys, and significantly fewer symptoms/fears of negative evaluations by peers.
The study’s findings are expected to bring about significant advances in how the agencies of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Canada (BBBSC) deliver mentoring services. Expected outcomes are more specialized pre-match training for the child, parents and mentor; more effective match support for all three participants to better manage expectations; and earlier detection of special needs among children and teenagers.
The study was conducted by a team of academics led by Dr. David DeWit, a Senior Research Scientist with CAMH in London, Ontario, and Dr. Ellen Lipman, a psychiatrist and Professor at McMaster University in Hamilton.
The research was made possible by a $1.7 million grant from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR).