Peer-Assisted Social Learning for Diverse and Low-Income Youth: Infusing Mental Health Promotion Into Urban After-School Programs

  • Sarah A. Helseth
  • Stacy L. Frazier
Original Article


Community-based after-school programs (ASPs) can promote social competence by infusing evidence-based practice into recreation. Through collaborative partnership, we developed and implemented a peer-assisted social learning (PASL) model to leverage natural opportunities for peer-mediated problem-solving. ASP-Staff (n = 5) led elementary-school youth (n = 30) through 21 activities that partnered socially-skilled and less-skilled children; outcomes were compared to children (n = 31) at another site, via quasi-experimental design. Findings were mixed, including strong evidence for fidelity (adherence) and feasibility (attendance, participation, enthusiasm) of implementation. Relative to Comparison children, PASL children demonstrated improved social skills and behavior, but no changes in problem-solving, peer likability, or social network status.


After-school program Peer-assisted learning Social competence Feasibility 



This research was supported in part by an FIU Graduate School Dissertation Year Fellowship awarded to Sarah Helseth.


This study did not receive any outside funding or financial support.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

Sarah A. Helseth declares that she no conflicts of interest to report. Stacy L. Frazier wishes to disclose that she is an associate editor for Administration and Policy in Mental Health and Mental Health Services Research, but otherwise reports no conflicts of interest.

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of Florida International University’s IRB and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyFlorida International UniversityMiamiUSA

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