Exploring the impacts of school belonging on youth wellbeing and mental health among Turkish adolescents

Gökmen Arslan, Kelly-Ann Allen, Tracii Ryan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

Abstract

Research has shown that successful school outcomes and positive mental health and wellbeing are positively correlated with a sense of school belonging. However, most studies have investigated the bivariate relationships and reported causal inferences of school belonging with other variables. The purpose of the present study is to examine the cross-sectional and longitudinal associations between school belonging, and mental health indicators and wellbeing to further understand the nature and direction of causal relationships. Four hundred and two students aged 10–15 years old from two public secondary schools in an urban city in Turkey participated in the study. Using a short-term longitudinal design, data was gathered at two time points using measures that examined school belonging, internalizing and externalizing problems, and life satisfaction. Correlation analysis was used to determine the associations of school belonging, and mental health and wellbeing outcomes. The predictive effect of school belonging was analyzed through structural equation modeling (SEM). School belonging was found to be a significant predictor of youth externalizing and internalizing problems and life satisfaction. Social inclusion strongly predicted youth life satisfaction, while internalizing and externalizing problems were strongly predicted by social exclusion. The findings of this research emphasize the need for school belonging interventions to decrease current and future mental health problems and improve wellbeing. Implications for future studies employing experimental designs on larger samples in cross-cultural context are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages17
JournalChild Indicators Research
DOIs
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2020

Keywords

  • School belonging
  • Internalizing problems
  • Externalizing problems
  • Wellbeing
  • The need to belong

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