Does having a natural mentor in adolescence relate to better outcomes in emergent adulthood?


Busse, H.; Kipping, R.; Campbell, R.; & de Vocht, F. (2018). Does having a natural mentor in adolescence relate to better outcomes in emergent adulthood?. European Journal of Public Health. vol. 28 (suppl_4)


Background: The majority of young people report the presence of a non-parental adult who has made an important positive difference in their life; i.e. a ‘natural mentor’, yet little is known about the long-term benefits, if any, of having access to a natural mentor. This study examined the association between having a mentor during adolescence on health, educational and employment outcomes in emergent adulthood. Methods: Analyses were based on the US National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health (Add Health). All participants who reported having a natural mentor between 14-18 years at wave 3 (2001-02) and with valid survey weights were included. Outcomes were having completed a college degree, working 10 hours per week, having a diagnosis of depression and perception of general health when respondents were 24-34 years (Wave 4, 2008). Logistic regression models were adjusted for sex, age, ethnicity, deprivation, region, school outcomes and selected baseline control variables. Results: Of the 10140 eligible participants with complete data, 7291 (72%) reported having had a mentor and 2849 (28%) did not. After adjusting for covariates, young people who reported having had a natural mentor were more likely to have completed a college degree (OR = 1.43 [95%CI 1.25, 1.63]) and to report good self-rated health (OR = 1.25 [1.02, 1.53]) compared to those who did not. Young people did not differ on their likelihood of having a diagnosis of depression (OR = 0.96 [0.85, 1.08]) or to be working 10 hours per week (OR = 1.15 [0.95, 1.40]). Conclusions: This study indicates that having access to a natural mentor in adolescence is related to better perceived health and educational outcomes in emergent adulthood. Our findings support actions towards connecting youth with supportive adults in their lives, possibly through formalised mentoring programmes. Future research is needed to assess young people’s access to natural mentors within a European context.




Reference Type

Journal Article

Journal Title

European Journal of Public Health


Busse, H.
Kipping, R.
Campbell, R.
de Vocht, F.

Year Published


Volume Number


Issue Number



November 21, 2018





Reference ID