Journal of Happiness Studies

, Volume 18, Issue 1, pp 177–198 | Cite as

Does Positive Mental Health in Adolescence Longitudinally Predict Healthy Transitions in Young Adulthood?

  • Meredith O’Connor
  • Ann V. Sanson
  • John W. Toumbourou
  • Jacolyn Norrish
  • Craig A. Olsson
Research Paper

Abstract

The present study examined the longer-term implications of adolescent positive mental health for successful young adult transitions. Positive mental health in adolescence was defined by indicators roughly corresponding to Seligman’s positive psychology PERMA framework (positive emotional experiences, engagement, relationships, purpose, and accomplishment), with the addition of health. Data were drawn from one of Australia’s longest running studies of social and emotional development (Australian Temperament Project, est. 1983, N = 2443), which has followed a large representative community sample from infancy to 27–28 years of age. In the analyzed sample of n = 999, positive mental health at 15–16 years was associated with indicators of career progression (educational attainment and perceived competence) and taking on citizenship responsibilities (volunteering and civic activities) over a decade later at 27–28 years. Mental health problems in adolescence were more relevant to establishing romantic partnerships in young adulthood: adolescent antisocial behaviors predicted higher likelihood of being in a relationship, while depressive symptoms predicted lower quality partnerships. The results suggest that successful transitions into young adult roles and responsibilities may be facilitated by targeted mental health promotion interventions designed to both foster positive mental health and address mental health difficulties in adolescence.

Keywords

Positive mental health Internalizing and externalizing problems Positive psychology PERMA Positive education Developmental tasks Young adulthood Emerging adulthood Longitudinal 

References

  1. Ainley, J., Reed, R., & Miller, H. (1984). School organisation and the quality of schooling: A study of Victorian Government secondary schools. ACER Research Monograph, 29, 1–168.Google Scholar
  2. Angold, A., Costello, E. J., Messer, S. C., Pickles, A., Winder, F., & Silver, D. (1995). Development of a short questionnaire for use in epidemiological studies of depression in children and adolescents. International Journal of Methods in Psychiatric Research, 5, 237–249.Google Scholar
  3. Arbuckle, J. (2007). Amos 16.0 user’s guide. Pennsylvania: Amos Development Corporation.Google Scholar
  4. Arnett, J. (2006). Emerging adulthood: Understanding the new way of coming of age. In J. Arnett & J. Tanner (Eds.), Emerging adults in America: Coming of age in the 21st century (pp. 3–20). Washington: American Psychological Association.Google Scholar
  5. Braiker, H. B., & Kelley, H. H. (1979). Conflict in the development of close relationships. Social Exchange in Developing Relationships, 135–168. Google Scholar
  6. Brehm, J., & Rahn, W. (1997). Individual level evidence for the causes and consequences of social capital. American Journal of Political Science, 41(3), 999–1023.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Broom, L., Jones, F. L., & Zubrzycki, J. (1976). Opportunity and attainment in Australia. Canberra: ANU Press.Google Scholar
  8. Brotherton, P. I., Kotler, T., & Hammond, S. B. (1979). Development of an Australian index of social class. Australian Psychologist, 14, 77–83.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Burney, V. H., & Beilke, J. R. (2008). The constraints of poverty on high achievement. Journal for the Education of the Gifted, 31(3), 171–197.Google Scholar
  10. Cote, J. (2006). Emerging adulthood as an institutionalised moratorium: Risks and benefits to identity formation. In J. Arnett & J. Tanner (Eds.), Emerging adults in America: Coming of age in the 21st century (pp. 85–116). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Doidge, J. C., Edwards, B., Higgins, D. J., & Segal, L. (unpublished manuscript, submitted). Selection bias and missing data in retrospective self-reports of adverse childhood experiences.Google Scholar
  12. Edwards, B., Hawkins, M., Letcher, P., Little, K., Macdonald, J., Oberklaid, F., et al. (2013). The Australian temperament project: The first 30 years. Melbourne: Australian Institute of Family Studies.Google Scholar
  13. Eklund, J. M., Kerr, M., & Stattin, H. (2010). Romantic relationships and delinquent behaviour in adolescence: The moderating role of delinquency propensity. Journal of adolescence, 33(3), 377–386.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Flanagan, C., & Levine, P. (2010). Civic engagement and the transition to adulthood. The Future of Children, 20(1), 159–179.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Gresham, F., & Elliot, S. (1990). Manual for the social skills rating system. Circle Pines, MN: American Guidance Service.Google Scholar
  16. Hallam, W., Olsson, C., O’Connor, M., Hawkins, M., Toumbourou, J., Bowes, G., & Sanson, A. (2014). Association between adolescent eudaimonic behaviours and emotional competence in young adulthood. Journal of Happiness Studies, 15(5), 1165–1177. doi:10.1007/s10902-013-9469-0.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Havighurst, R. J. (1956). Research on the developmental-task concept. The School Review, 64(5), 215–223.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Hawkins, M., Letcher, P., O’Connor, M., Bant, S., Deery, A., Sanson, A., et al. (submitted). The nature and stability of positive development across young adulthood: Longitudinal findings from the Australian Temperament Project.Google Scholar
  19. Hawkins, M., Villagonzalo, K., Sanson, A., Toumbourou, J., Letcher, P., & Olsson, C. (2012). Associations between positive development in late adolescence and social, health, and behavioral outcomes in young adulthood. Journal of Adult Development, 19(2), 88–99.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Howell, A. J. (2009). Flourishing: Achievement-related correlates of students’ well-being. Journal of Positive Psychology, 4, 1–13.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Kern, M. L., Waters, L. E., Adler, A., & White, M. A. (2015). A multidimensional approach to measuring well-being in students: Application of the PERMA framework. The Journal of Positive Psychology, 10(3), 262–271.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Kessler, R., & Walters, E. (1998). Epidemiology of DSM-III-R major depression and minor depression among adolescents and young adults in the National Comorbidity Survey. Depression and Anxiety, 7(1), 3–14.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Keyes, C. (2006). Mental health in adolescence: Is America’s youth flourishing? American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 76(3), 395–402.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Kiecolt-Glaser, J. K., & Newton, T. L. (2001). Marriage and health: His and hers. Psychological Bulletin, 127(4), 472.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Lerner, R., Lerner, J., Almerigi, J., Theokas, C., Phelps, E., Gestsdottir, S., & Ma, L. (2005). Positive Youth Development, Participation in community youth development programs, and community contributions of fifth-grade adolescents findings from the first wave Of the 4-H study of Positive Youth Development. The Journal of Early Adolescence, 25(1), 17–71.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Masten, A., Burt, K., Roisman, G., Obradović, J., Long, J., & Tellegen, A. (2004). Resources and resilience in the transition to adulthood: Continuity and change. Development and Psychopathology, 16(4), 1071–1094.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Masten, A., Desjardins, C., McCormick, C., Kuo, S., & Long, J. (2010). The significance of childhood competence and problems for adult success in work: A developmental cascade analysis. Development and Psychopathology, 22(03), 679–694.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Masten, A., & Tellegen, A. (2012). Resilience in developmental psychopathology: Contributions of the Project Competence Longitudinal Study. Development and Psychopathology, 24(2), 345.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. McCormick, C., I-Chun Kuo, S., & Masten, A. (2011). Developmental tasks across the lifespan. In K. Fingerman (Ed.), Handbook of life-span development (pp. 117–140). New York: Springer.Google Scholar
  30. McKee-Ryan, F., Song, Z., Wanberg, C. R., & Kinicki, A. J. (2005). Psychological and physical well-being during unemployment: A meta-analytic study. Journal of Applied Psychology, 90(1), 53.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Moffitt, T. E., & Silva, P. A. (1988). Self-reported delinquency: Results from an instrument for New Zealand. Australian & New Zealand Journal of Criminology, 21(4), 227–240. doi:10.1177/000486588802100405.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Norrish, J. M., Williams, P., O’Connor, M., & Robinson, J. (2013). An applied framework for positive education. International Journal of Wellbeing, 3(2), 147–161. doi:10.5502/ijw.v3i2.2.Google Scholar
  33. O’Connor, M., Sanson, A., Hawkins, M., Letcher, P., Toumbourou, J., Smart, D., & Olsson, C. (2011a). Predictors of positive development in emerging adulthood. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 40, 860–874. doi:10.1007/s10964-010-9593-7.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. O’Connor, M., Sanson, A., Hawkins, M., Olsson, C., Frydenberg, E., Toumbourou, J., & Letcher, P. (2012). The relationship between positive development and psychopathology during the transition to adulthood: A person-centred approach. Journal of Adolescence, 35(3), 701–712. doi:10.1016/j.adolescence.2011.10.006.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. O’Connor, M., Sanson, A., Hawkins, M., Toumbourou, J., Letcher, P., & Frydenberg, E. (2011b). Differentiating three conceptualisations of the relationship between positive development and psychopathology during the transition to adulthood. Journal of Adolescence, 34, 475–484. doi:10.1016/j.adolescence.2010.06.005.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. O’Connor, M., Sanson, A., Toumbourou, J., Hawkins, M., Letcher, P., Williams, P., & Olsson, C. (2015). Positive development and resilience in emerging adulthood. In J. Arnett (Ed.), The Oxford handbook of emerging adulthood (pp. 601–614). Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  37. Paus, T., Keshavan, M., & Giedd, J. N. (2008). Why do many psychiatric disorders emerge during adolescence? Nature Reviews Neuroscience, 9(12), 947–957.Google Scholar
  38. Pinquart, M., Juang, L. P., & Silbereisen, R. K. (2003). Self-efficacy and successful school-to-work transition: A longitudinal study. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 63(3), 329–346.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Pittman, K., & Fleming, W. (1991). A new vision: Promoting youth development. Testimony by Karen J. Pittman before the House Select Committee on Children, Youth, and Families. Washington, DC: Centre for Youth Development and Policy Research.Google Scholar
  40. Prior, M., Sanson, A., Smart, D., & Oberklaid, F. (2000). Pathways from infancy to adolescence: Australian Temperament Project 1983–2000. Melbourne, VIC: Australian Institute of Family Studies.Google Scholar
  41. Rauer, A. J., Pettit, G. S., Lansford, J. E., Bates, J. E., & Dodge, K. A. (2013). Romantic relationship patterns in young adulthood and their developmental antecedents. Developmental Psychology, 49(11), 2159.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Reyes, J. A., Elias, M. J., Parker, S. J., & Rosenblatt, J. L. (2013). Promoting educational equity in disadvantaged youth: The role of resilience and social-emotional learning. Handbook of Resilience in Children, 349–370. doi:10.1007/978-1-4614-3661-4_20.
  43. Roisman, G., Masten, A., Coatsworth, D., & Tellegen, A. (2004). Salient and emerging developmental tasks in the transition to adulthood. Child Development, 75, 123–133.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Sawyer, M. G., Miller-Lewis, L. R., & Clark, J. (2007). The mental health of 13–17 year-olds in Australia: Findings from the National Survey of Mental Health and Well-being. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 36(2), 185–194.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Schreiber, J. B., Nora, A., Stage, F. K., Barlow, E. A., & King, J. (2006). Reporting structural equation modeling and confirmatory factor analysis results: A review. The Journal of Educational Research, 99(6), 323–338.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Schulenberg, J., Bryant, A., & O’Malley, P. (2004). Taking hold of some kind of life: How developmental tasks relate to trajectories of well-being during the transition to adulthood. Development and Psychopathology, 16(04), 1119–1140. doi:10.1017/S0954579404040167.Google Scholar
  47. Schulenberg, J., & Maggs, J. (2002). A developmental perspective on alcohol use and heavy drinking during adolescence and the transition to young adulthood. Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, S14, 54.Google Scholar
  48. Seiffge-Krenke, I., & Gelhaar, T. (2008). Does successful attainment of developmental tasks lead to happiness and success in later developmental tasks? A test of Havighurst’s (1948) theses. Journal of adolescence, 31(1), 33–52.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Seligman, M. (2011). Flourish. London: Nicholas Brealey Pub.Google Scholar
  50. Seligman, M., Ernst, R., Gillham, J., Reivich, K., & Linkins, M. (2009). Positive education: Positive psychology and classroom interventions. Oxford Review of Education, 35, 293–311.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Settersten, R. (2005). Social policy and the transition to adulthood. On the Frontier of Adulthood: Theory, Research, and Public Policy, 534–560.Google Scholar
  52. Smith, E. (1999). The effects of investments in the social capital of youth on political and civic behavior in young adulthood: A longitudinal analysis. Political Psychology, 20, 553–580.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Stone, W., & Hughes, J. (2002). Social capital: Empirical meaning and measurement validity (pp. 1–64). (Working Paper No. 27). Melbourne, VIC: Australian Institute of Family Studies.Google Scholar
  54. Suldo, S. M., Thalji, A., & Ferron, J. (2011). Longitudinal academic outcomes predicted by early adolescents’ subjective well-being, psychopathology, and mental health status yielded from a dual factor model. Journal of Positive Psychology, 6, 17–30.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Tabachnick, B., & Fidell, L. (2001). Using multivariate statistics (4th ed.). Boston: Allyn & Bacon.Google Scholar
  56. Vujeva, H. M., & Furman, W. (2011). Depressive symptoms and romantic relationship qualities from adolescence through emerging adulthood: A longitudinal examination of influences. Journal of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology, 40(1), 123–135.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Watts, M. J., & Mitchell, W. F. (2000). The costs of unemployment in Australia. The Economic and Labour Relations Review, 11(2), 180–197.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Meredith O’Connor
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  • Ann V. Sanson
    • 2
  • John W. Toumbourou
    • 4
  • Jacolyn Norrish
    • 1
  • Craig A. Olsson
    • 2
    • 4
    • 5
    • 6
    • 7
  1. 1.Institute of Positive EducationGeelong Grammar SchoolCorioAustralia
  2. 2.Department of PaediatricsUniversity of Melbourne, Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Health SciencesParkvilleAustralia
  3. 3.Murdoch Childrens Research InstituteRoyal Children’s HospitalParkvilleAustralia
  4. 4.School of Psychology, Faculty of HealthDeakin UniversityBurwoodAustralia
  5. 5.Centre for Social and Early Emotional DevelopmentDeakin UniversityBurwoodAustralia
  6. 6.Adolescent Health ResearchMurdoch Childrens Research InstituteParkvilleAustralia
  7. 7.Royal Children’s HospitalParkvilleAustralia

Personalised recommendations