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Mentoring Youth With Emotional and Behavioral Problems: A Meta-Analytic Review

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Date Published

This study is a meta-analysis of research on mentoring programs for youth with emotional and behavioral problems.


This meta-analysis addresses the questions of the effectiveness of mentoring programs targeting youth with emotional and behavioral problems and the program characteristics and practices that increase effectiveness. Results indicated a small-to-moderate effect of these specialized mentoring programs across youth outcomes, commensurate with other meta-analyses of intervention effectiveness. Moderator analyses yielded several program characteristics and practices that improve effectiveness, including setting, youths’ gender, and parental involvement, among others. Overall, mentoring programs that target youth with emotional and behavioral problems are viable candidates for serving as alternative or adjunctive interventions to improve the current mental healthcare service delivery system. Our current service delivery models are falling short of helping youth with mental health problems. Mentoring is one option that may be effective at helping us address this shortcoming. Youth mentoring theory and research have typically treated mentoring as a prevention intervention (i.e., preventing school dropout, academic decline, psychopathology development, etc.), and research has found youth mentoring to be effective in a variety of domains. The benefits of mentoring may also be applicable to youth with known mental health problems. Research has begun to tackle this question. 

Date Published: January 1, 2013