Adolescent friendship formation and mental health: A stochastic actor-based model of help-seeking behavior


Mundt, M. P. & Zakletskaia, L. I. (2019). Adolescent friendship formation and mental health: A stochastic actor-based model of help-seeking behavior. Journal of Social Structure. vol. 20 (3) pp. 50-69


This study investigates how adolescent peer friendship formation relates to help-seeking behavior and how the structure of peer social networks contributes to the creation of social connections by psychological counseling recipients. The study sample comprised 2,264 adolescents ages 12-19 from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (Add Health). Stochastic actor-based modeling simulated the co-dependence of peer friendship networks and adolescent help-seeking behavior from an initial data state to a final data state while accounting for social selection and influence effects in the same model. Results indicated that adolescents who sought psychological counseling in the past year nominated 65% more peers as friends than otherwise identical adolescents who did not use psychological services. Adolescent psychological counseling did not contribute to the loss of friends. Users of psychological services were twice as likely to be named as friends in highly interconnected peer social networks (i.e. more friendship connections among their friends), as opposed to individuals in less interconnected peer groups. The findings indicate improved social functioning of adolescents as a result of psychological counseling. The results advocate for use of psychological services and point to the necessity of wide-spread screening and early detection and treatment of mental ill-health among U.S. adolescents. Group interventions targeting building social skills to enhance peer group social network interconnectivity may promote better social connections for adolescent users of psychological counseling



actor-based modeling


Export Date: 3 September 2019

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Journal Article

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Journal of Social Structure


Mundt, M. P.
Zakletskaia, L. I.

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