Natural mentors and youth drinking: a qualitative study of Mexican youths.
In this study, we tested whether having a natural mentor affected the growth trajectory of health outcomes among adolescents transitioning into adulthood (5 years post-high school). Participants in this study included 615 African American emerging adults. Outcomes assessed in this study included depressive symptoms, sexual risk behavior, and substance use. We hypothesized that participants who possessed natural mentors would demonstrate greater declines over time across all outcome variables in comparison to their counterparts who did not possess natural mentors. Using Hierarchical Linear Modeling, we found that having a natural mentor was related to less depressive symptoms and less sexual risk behavior over time. The results suggest that natural mentors may protect youth from the negative outcomes associated with the risks they face. Implications of the results for prevention are discussed.