Factors Predicting the Mental Health of Adolescents Attending a Faith-based Australian School System: A Multi-group Structural Equation Analysis

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Craig, B. A., Morton, D. P., Morey, P. J., Kent, L. M., Beamish, P., Gane, B., … Price, K. R. (2019). Factors predicting the mental health of adolescents attending a faith-based Australian school system: A multi-group structural equation analysis. Journal of Mental Health, Prepublished 08 May 2019, doi:10.1080/09638237.2019.1608929

ISSN: 0963-8237


111714 Mental Health

Avondale Research Centre

Lifestyle Research Centre

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Background: Adolescents attending Seventh-day Adventist schools (Adventist) in Australia tend to experience good health and exhibit better health behaviors than national norms, however few studies have investigated factors predicting their mental health.

Aims: The aim of this study was to explore the complex network of factors that predict the mental health status (MHS) of adolescents attending Adventist schools in Australia.

Methods: A survey instrument was used to collect data from 1527 secondary school students attending Adventist schools across Australia. Structural equation modeling was employed to examine concomitantly the direct and indirect effects of childhood experiences, present attitudes and selected health behaviors on MHS.

Results: Childhood family dynamics had the strongest association with MHS (βtotal = 0.33) followed by a sense of meaning and purpose (βtotal = 0.27), perceived social misfit status (βtotal = –0.19), and school academic performance (βtotal = 0.18). Multi-group analysis found significant pathway differences in the model for gender with regards to the association of meaning and purpose, physical activity and sleep quantity with MHS.

Conclusions: The outcomes of the study highlight the importance of early positive childhood family dynamics and the discovery of meaning and purpose during adolescence to promote positive mental health among adolescents.


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