Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Kelly Kennedy, Ph.D.
Amy-Jane Griffiths, Ph.D.
In California, most students who transfer to continuation high schools have not earned sufficient credits to graduate on time with their peers. As a group, these students are more likely to engage in risk behaviors. Despite this, very few studies have focused on mental health outcomes and sources of resilience for this specific population. This study utilized data from the California Healthy Kids Survey (CHKS) to explore resilience assets and mental health outcomes (depression and suicidality) for continuation high school students. Overall, continuation students had significantly lower levels of most resilience assets and higher rates of both depression and suicidal ideation than their peers attending traditional schools. Female continuation students had the highest rates of adverse mental health outcomes. Continuation students who reported low levels of school connectedness were nearly twice as likely to attend a school with a low or medium cohort graduation rate versus a high rate. Results of logistic regression models indicated that continuation students who reported a high level of caring staff-student relationships were more likely to report depression symptoms than students who reported low levels. Higher levels of school connectedness, student meaningful participation, and internal resilience were associated with a decreased likelihood of reporting depression. Meanwhile, the strongest predictor of not reporting suicidal ideation was a high level of school connectedness. Higher levels of student meaningful participation also decreased the likelihood of reporting suicidal ideation compared to those with low levels. Although high levels of caring student-staff relationships were not predictive, students who reported medium levels were less likely to report suicidal ideation than those who reported low levels. Additionally, higher levels of supportive adult relationships at home and internal resilience were associated with a decreased likelihood of reporting suicidal ideation. With knowledge of how specific resilience assets function to reduce the likelihood of adverse mental health outcomes for continuation students, staff working in continuation settings are well-situated to foster resilience for these at-promise youth.
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Meshke McLay, B. (2021). Resilience and mental health of students attending California's continuation high schools [Doctoral dissertation, Chapman University]. Chapman University Digital Commons. https://doi.org/10.36837/chapman.000314