Agmon, Maayan, Cheryl Zlotnick, and Anat Finkelstein. “The Relationship between Mentoring on Healthy Behaviors and Well-Being among Israeli Youth in Boarding Schools: A Mixed-Methods Study.” BMC Pediatrics (early view; online first).
Although 10% of Israeli youth live in boarding schools, few studies, except for those focusing on mental health, have examined the well-being of this population subgroup. Thus, the aims of this study were to explore: (1) the prevalence rates of five aspects of well-being (i.e., healthy habits, avoidance of risky behaviors, peer relationships, adult relationships, and school environment) in youth residing at Israeli boarding schools; (2) the relationships between youth well-being and youth perception of their mentor; and (3) the different subgroups of youth with higher rates of risky and healthy behaviors.
This study used a mixed-methods approach including a quantitative survey of youth (n = 158) to examine the association between youth behaviors and perception of their mentor; and a qualitative study consisting of interviews (n = 15) with boarding school staff to better understand the context of these findings.
Greater proportions of boarding school youth, who had positive perceptions of their mentor (the significant adult or parent surrogate), believed both that their teachers thought they were good students (p < 0.01), and that they themselves were good students (p < 0.01). This finding is supported by the qualitative interviews with mentors. Youth living in a boarding school had very similar healthy habits compared to other youth living in Israel; however, youth in the general population, compared to those in the boarding schools, were eating more sweets (OR = 1.39, 95% CI = 1.02-1.90) and engaging in higher levels of television use (OR = 2.64, 95% CI = 1.97-3.54).
Mentors, the significant adult for youth living in residential education environments, have a major influence on school performance, the major focus of their work; mentors had no impact on healthy behaviors. Overall, there were many similarities in healthy behaviors between youth at boarding schools and youth in the general population; however, the differences in healthy habits seemed related to policies governing the boarding schools as well as its structural elements.