An Empirical Approach to Complete Mental Health Classification in Adolescents

  • Stephanie A. MooreEmail author
  • Erin Dowdy
  • Karen Nylund-Gibson
  • Michael J. Furlong
Original Paper


Using latent profile analysis (LPA), this study empirically identified dual-factor mental health subtypes, with a goal of examining structural stability of emerging latent classes over three high school years. Profiles’ relations with distal indicators of well-being, psychosocial distress, and self-reported grades were examined to explore the validity of emerging classes. A sample of 332 high school students reported on their social–emotional strengths and psychological distress during the fall term of their ninth-, tenth-, and eleventh-grade years. In Grade 12, students reported on measures assessing their grades and social–emotional experiences. Independent LPAs for each grade year yielded four mental health subtypes—complete mental health, moderately mentally healthy, symptomatic but content, and troubled—and provided evidence for the structural stability of the dual-factor mental health construct. Across high school years, most students were in the complete or moderately mentally healthy classes, with the troubled class consistently representing the smallest proportion of the sample. Students in classes with higher levels of strengths and lower levels of distress reported higher grades, prosocial contribution to community, and higher life satisfaction, and fewer symptoms of anxiety and depression. Implications and future directions for research and school-based practice are discussed.


Dual-factor mental health Adolescents Classification Latent profile analysis (LPA) 



Support for this study was provided in part by a grant from the U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences (#R305A160157). The opinions expressed are those of the authors and do not represent views of the Institute of Education Sciences or the U.S. Department of Education.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Human and Animal Rights

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki Declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.

Supplementary material

12310_2019_9311_MOESM1_ESM.docx (63 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 62 kb)


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Mental HealthJohns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public HealthBaltimoreUSA
  2. 2.University of California, Santa BarbaraSanta BarbaraUSA

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