Emotional distress and behavioral problems are common in high schools. This report describes the efficacy of an in-school program based on participation in volunteer-facilitated peer support groups in addressing these problems. Two hundred and fifty students who experienced such problems participated in weekly 50-minute peer support groups led by adult nonmental health professional volunteers. The students anonymously evaluated their progress and program acceptability using an instrument developed specifically to evaluate the group experience. Analysis of the evaluation of the 131 respondents documented the reliability of a proposed Self-Assessment Questionnaire which showed that participation led to improvement in school, interpersonal, and internal domains. The program was highly accepted and showed other signs of success: half of the alcohol and substance users reduced their intake, and 60% of those who considered dropping out of school continued their education. The results provide preliminary evidence that peer support groups show promise as an economical and well-accepted method for early recognition and management of emotional and behavioral problems in high schools. For some adolescents, these groups may be the only acceptable or available therapeutic modality.
|Published - Mar 1 1996
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Developmental and Educational Psychology
- Social Sciences (miscellaneous)