Mental Health and Educational Experiences Among Black Youth: A Latent Class Analysis

Theda Rose, Michael A. Lindsey, Yunyu Xiao, N. M. Finigan-Carr, Sean Joe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Disproportionately lower educational achievement, coupled with higher grade retention, suspensions, expulsions, and lower school bonding make educational success among Black adolescents a major public health concern. Mental health is a key developmental factor related to educational outcomes among adolescents; however, traditional models of mental health focus on absence of dysfunction as a way to conceptualize mental health. The dual-factor model of mental health incorporates indicators of both subjective wellbeing and psychopathology, supporting more recent research that both are needed to comprehensively assess mental health. This study applied the dual-factor model to measure mental health using the National Survey of American Life—Adolescent Supplement (NSAL-A), a representative cross-sectional survey. The sample included 1170 Black adolescents (52% female; mean age 15). Latent class analysis was conducted with positive indicators of subjective wellbeing (emotional, psychological, and social) as well as measures of psychopathology. Four mental health groups were identified, based on having high or low subjective wellbeing and high or low psychopathology. Accordingly, associations between mental health groups and educational outcomes were investigated. Significant associations were observed in school bonding, suspensions, and grade retention, with the positive mental health group (high subjective wellbeing, low psychopathology) experiencing more beneficial outcomes. The results support a strong association between school bonding and better mental health and have implications for a more comprehensive view of mental health in interventions targeting improved educational experiences and mental health among Black adolescents.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2321-2340
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Youth and Adolescence
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 1 2017


  • Black adolescents
  • Dual-factor model of mental health
  • Educational experiences
  • School bonding

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)


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