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An Empirical Approach to Complete Mental Health Classification in Adolescents.

  • Author(s): Moore, Stephanie A;
  • Dowdy, Erin;
  • Nylund-Gibson, Karen;
  • Furlong, Michael J
  • et al.

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Using latent profile analysis (LPA), this study empirically identified dual-factor mental health subtypes, with a goal of examining structural stability of emerging latent classes over three high school years. Profiles' relations with distal indicators of well-being, psychosocial distress, and self-reported grades were examined to explore the validity of emerging classes. A sample of 332 high school students reported on their social-emotional strengths and psychological distress during the fall term of their ninth-, tenth-, and eleventh-grade years. In Grade 12, students reported on measures assessing their grades and social-emotional experiences. Independent LPAs for each grade year yielded four mental health subtypes - complete mental health, moderately mentally healthy, symptomatic but content, and troubled - and provided evidence for the structural stability of the dual-factor mental health construct. Across high school years, most students were in the complete or moderately mentally healthy classes, with the troubled class consistently representing the smallest proportion of the sample. Students in classes with higher levels of strengths and lower levels of distress reported higher grades, prosocial contribution to community, and higher life satisfaction, and fewer symptoms of anxiety and depression. Implications and future directions for research and school-based practice are discussed.

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