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Exploring the Contributions of School Belonging to Complete Mental Health Screening

  • Kathryn Moffa (a1), Erin Dowdy (a1) and Michael J. Furlong (a2)
Abstract

Considering the many positive outcomes associated with adolescents’ sense of school belonging, including psychological functioning, it is possible that including an assessment of school belonging within a complete mental health screening process could contribute to the prediction of students’ future mental health status. This exploratory study used complete mental health screening data obtained from a central California high school (N = 1,159). At Time 1 (T1) schoolwide screening was used to identify complete mental health groups by applying a dual-factor strategy and concurrently measuring students’ school belonging. One year later at Time 2 (T2), social-emotional wellbeing and internal distress were assessed. Cross-sectional T1 results indicated that there were significant differences in school belonging between students who reported low global life satisfaction and those who reported average or high global life satisfaction, regardless of reported level of psychological distress. A comparison of T1 to T2 data revealed that global life satisfaction and psychological distress were predictive of wellbeing and internal distress. However, contrary to study expectations, school belonging at T1 added little to the prediction of T2 psychological distress beyond the information already provided by the T1 dual-factor screening framework. Implications for practice and future directions are discussed.

Copyright
Corresponding author
Address for Correspondence: Michael Furlong, University of California Santa Barbara, Gevirtz School of Education, International Center for School-Based Youth Development, Santa Barbara, CA, USA93106. Email: mfurlong@education.ucsb.edu
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