Journal of Youth and Adolescence

, Volume 30, Issue 3, pp 259–280 | Cite as

Risk, Compensatory, Vulnerability, and Protective Factors Influencing Mental Health in Adolescence

  • Hans-Christoph Steinhausen
  • Christa Winkler Metzke


The aim of the study was to elucidate the relative contribution to and function of general risk factors for mental disorders as well as compensatory, vulnerability, and protective factors in a general population sample of preadolescent and adolescent students. Data were collected in a representative sample of 1,110 (10 to 17 year-old) subjects of a school-based quota sample in the Canton of Zurich, Switzerland. The factors under study were assessed using questionnaires. The Youth Self Report (YSR) was used as an indicator of emotional and behavioral abnormalities. Further questionnaires were concerned with life events, coping strategies, self-esteem, self-awareness, parental child-rearing behaviors, the school environment, and the social network. General risk factors for both sexes included increased self-awareness, avoidance behavior, perceived rejection by the parents, competitive behavior among classmates, and controlling behavior of the teachers. General compensatory factors included self-esteem and acceptance by the parents. Performance stress served as a risk factor for internalizing disorders in both sexes; for externalizing disorders it was a risk factor in girls and a vulnerability factor in boys. Active coping and peer acceptance were protective factors for internalizing disorders and peer acceptance was also a compensatory factor for externalizing disorders. In addition, some gender-specific interactions were identified.


Mental Health Social Network Mental Disorder Coping Strategy Protective Factor 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 2001

Authors and Affiliations

  • Hans-Christoph Steinhausen
    • 1
  • Christa Winkler Metzke
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Child and Adolescent PsychiatryUniversity of ZürichZurichSwitzerland
  2. 2.Department of Child and Adolescent PsychiatryUniversity of ZurichZurichSwitzerland

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