Skip to main content
×
Home
    • Aa
    • Aa

The Relationship Between School Connectedness and Mental Health During the Transition to Secondary School: A Path Analysis

  • Leanne Lester (a1), Stacey Waters (a1) and Donna Cross (a1)
Abstract

During the transition from primary to secondary school, students typically experience a new social environment, moving from primary school with small intact classes throughout the day with one main teacher, to a larger secondary school with teachers, classrooms and often classmates changing throughout the day. During this time, students report a reduced sense of connectedness, which has been associated with symptoms of depression and anxiety. This study investigated the temporal association between feeling connected to school and mental health prior to and over the transition period. Data were obtained from 3,459 students in a longitudinal study of adolescents’ knowledge, attitudes and experiences of bullying victimisation and perpetration during the transition from primary school to secondary school. Students completed a questionnaire at four time points from Grade 7 to the end of Grade 9. Path analysis was used to model relationships between school connectedness, depression and anxiety. The findings suggest reciprocal relationships between connectedness and mental health where increased connectedness to school is associated with decreased depression and anxiety; conversely, increased depression and anxiety is associated with decreased connectedness to school. The significant reciprocal associations found in the cross-lag models in the first two years of secondary school indicate the need to intervene during the transition period to improve students’ social and mental health outcomes.

Copyright
Corresponding author
address for correspondence: Leanne Lester, Child Health Promotion Research Centre, Edith Cowan University, 2 Bradford Street, Mt Lawley WA 6050, Australia. Email: l.lester@ecu.edu.au
Linked references
Hide All

This list contains references from the content that can be linked to their source. For a full set of references and notes please see the PDF or HTML where available.

J. Aikins , K. Bierman , & J. Parker (2005). Navigating the transition to junior high school: The influence of pre-transition friendship and self-system characteristics. Social Development, 14 (1), 4260. doi:10.1111/j.1467-9507.2005.00290.x

B. Barber , & J. Olsen (2004). Assessing the transitions to middle and high school. Journal of Adolescent Research, 19 (3), 330. doi:10.1177/0743558403258113

A Benner , & S Graham . (2009). The transition to high school as a developmental process among multiethnic urban youth. Child Development, 80 (2), 356—376.

L. Bond , H. Butler , L. Thomas , J. Carlin , S. Glover , G. Bowes , & G. Patton (2007). Social and school connectedness in early secondary school as predictors of late teenage substance use, mental health and academic outcomes. Journal of Adolescent Health, 40 (4), 918. doi:10.1016/j.jadohealth.2006.10.013

A. Bonny , M. Britto , B. Klostermann , R. Hornung , & G. Slap (2000). School disconnectedness: identifying adolescents at risk. Paediatrics, 106, 10171021. doi:10.1542/peds.106.5.1017

M. Carter , R. McGee , B. Taylor , & S. Williams (2007). Health outcomes in adolescence: Associations with family, friends and school engagement. Journal of Adolescence, 30 (1), 5162. doi:10.1016/j.adolescence.2005.04.002

R. Catalano , S. Oesterle , C. Fleming , & D. Hawkins (2004). The importance of bonding to school for healthy development: Findings from the Social Development Research Group. Journal of School Health, 74 (7), 252261. doi:10.1111/j.1746-1561.2004.tb08281.x

R. Chapman , L. Buckley , M. Sheehan , I. Shochet , & M. Romaniuk (2011). The impact of school connectedness on violent behavior, transport risk-taking behavior, and associated injuries in adolescence. Journal of School Psychology, 49 (4), 399410. doi:10.1016/j.jsp.2011.04.004

H. Cowie , P. Naylor , L. Talamelli , P. Chauhan , & P.K. Smith (2002). Knowledge, use of and attitudes towards peer support. Journal of Adolescence, 25, 453467.

P. Ellickson , & J. Hawes (1989). An assessment of active versus passive methods for obtaining parental consent. Evaluation Review, 13 (1), 4555. doi:10.1177/0193841´8901300104

K. Frey , M. Hirschstein , L. Edstrom , & J. Snell (2009). Observed reductions in school bullying, nonbullying aggression, and destructive bystander behavior: A longitudinal evaluation. Journal of Educational Psychology, 101 (2), 466481. doi:10.1037/a0013839

M.T. Greenberg , R.P. Weissberg , M.U. O'Brien , J.E. Zins , L. Fredericks , H. Resnick , & M.J. Elias (2003). Enhancing school-based prevention and youth development though coordinated social, emotional, and academic learning. American Psychologist, 58, 466474.

B. Hankin , & L. Abramson (2001). Development of gender differences in depression: An elaborated cognitive vulnerability–transactional stress theory. Psychological Bulletin, 127 (6), 773796. doi:10.1037/0033-2909.127.6.773

K. Henry , & M. Slater (2007). The contextual effect of school attachment on young adolescents’ alcohol use. Journal of School Health, 77 (2), 6774. doi: 10.1111/j.1746-1561.2007.00169.x

L. Lester , D. Cross , & T. Shaw (2012). Adolescent bully-victims: Social health and the transition to secondary school. Cambridge Journal of Education, 42 (2), 213233.

H. Libbey (2004). Measuring student relationships to school: Attachment, bonding, connectedness, and engagement. Journal of School Health, 74 (7), 274283. doi:10.1111/j.1746-1561.2004.tb08284.x

M. Mason , C. Schmidt , A. Abraham , L. Walker , & K. Tercyak (2009). Adolescents’ social environment and depression: Social networks, extracurricular activity, and family relationship influences. Journal of Clinical Psychology in Medical Settings, 16 (4), 346354. doi:10.1007/s10880-009-9169-4

C. McNeely , J. Nonnemaker , & J. Blum (2002). Promoting school connectedness: Evidence from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health. Journal of School Health, 72 (4), 138147. doi:10.1111/j.1746-1561.2002.tb06533.x

L. O'Brennan , & M. Furlong (2010). Relations between students’ perceptions of school connectedness and peer victimization. Journal of School Violence, 9 (4), 375391. doi: 10.1080/15388220.2010.509009

A. Pereira , & J. Pooley (2007). A qualitative exploration of the transition experience of students from a high school to a senior high school in rural Western Australia. Australian Journal of Education, 51 (2), 481492.

M.D. Resnick , P.S. Bearman , R.W. Blum , K.E. Bauman , K.M. Harris , J. Jones , . . . J.R. Udry (1997). Protecting adolescents from harm: Findings from the National Longitudinal Study on Adolescent Health. Journal of the American Medical Association, 278 (10), 823832.

R.M. Ryan , & E.L. Deci (2000). Self-determination theory and the facilitation of intrinsic motivation, social development and well-being. American Psychologist, 55 (1), 6878.

O. Samdal , D. Nutbeam , B. Wold , & L. Kannas (1998). Achieving health and educational goals through schools — A study of the importance of school climate and the students’ satisfaction with school. Health Education Research, 13, 383397. doi: 10.1093/her/13.3.383

I. Shochet , M. Dadds , D. Ham , & R. Montague (2006). School connectedness is an underemphasized parameter in adolescent mental health: Results of a community prediction study. Journal of Clinical Child & Adolescent Psychology, 35 (2), 170179. doi:10.1207/s15374424jccp3502_1

A. Vieno , D. Perkins , T. Smith , & M. Santinello (2005). Democratic school climate and sense of community in school: A multilevel analysis. American Journal of Community Psychology, 36, 327341. doi:10.1007/s10464-005-8629-8

S. Ward , J. Sylva , & F. Gresham (2010). School-based predictors of early adolescent depression. School Mental Health, 2, 125131. doi:10.1007/s12310-010-9028-3

S. Waters , D. Cross , & K. Runions (2009). Social and ecological structures supporting adolescent connectedness to school: A theoretical model. Journal of School Health, 79 (11), 516524.

S. Waters , D. Cross , & T. Shaw (2010). Does the nature of schools matter? An exploration of selected school ecology factors on adolescent perceptions of school connectedness. British Journal of Educational Psychology, 80, 381402.

L. Yates (1999). Transitions and the Year 7 experience: A report from the 12 to 18 project. Australian Journal of Education, 43 (1), 2441.

Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Journal of Psychologists and Counsellors in Schools
  • ISSN: 2055-6365
  • EISSN: 2055-6373
  • URL: /core/journals/journal-of-psychologists-and-counsellors-in-schools
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *
×

Keywords:

Metrics

Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 19
Total number of PDF views: 137 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 615 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between September 2016 - 21st September 2017. This data will be updated every 24 hours.