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The Journal of Primary Prevention

, Volume 38, Issue 1–2, pp 49–66 | Cite as

Mentoring Relationships and the Mental Health of Aboriginal Youth in Canada

  • David J. DeWit
  • Samantha Wells
  • Tara Elton-Marshall
  • Julie George
Original Paper
  • 1.5k Downloads

Abstract

We compared the mentoring experiences and mental health and behavioral outcomes associated with program-supported mentoring for 125 Aboriginal (AB) and 734 non-Aboriginal (non-AB) youth ages 6–17 participating in a national survey of Big Brothers Big Sisters community mentoring relationships. Parents or guardians reported on youth mental health and other outcomes at baseline (before youth were paired to a mentor) and at 18 months follow-up. We found that AB youth were significantly less likely than non-AB youth to be in a long-term continuous mentoring relationship. However, AB youth were more likely than non-AB youth to be in a long-term relationship ending in dissolution. AB youth were also more likely than non-AB youth to have been mentored by a female adult. AB youth were significantly more likely than non-AB youth to report a high quality mentoring relationship, regular weekly contact with their mentor, and monthly mentoring activities. Structural equation model results revealed that, relative to non-mentored AB youth, AB youth with mentors experienced significantly fewer emotional problems and symptoms of social anxiety. These relationships were not found for non-AB youth. Our findings suggest that mentoring programs may be an effective intervention for improving the health and well-being of AB youth.

Keywords

Mentoring Relationships Aboriginal youth Mental health 

Notes

Acknowledgments

The authors would like to thank Big Brothers Big Sisters of Canada and the local BBBS agencies for supporting this study. This research has been funded by grants from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (MOP 81115 and MOP 130435).

Compliance With Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors have no conflicts of interest to report.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • David J. DeWit
    • 1
  • Samantha Wells
    • 1
  • Tara Elton-Marshall
    • 1
  • Julie George
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute for Mental Health Policy ResearchCentre for Addiction and Mental HealthLondonCanada

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