Adolescent Mental Health among Ethnically Diverse and Socially Disadvantaged Middle School Students in Southern California

Janis H. Jenkins (PI)


Emotional well-being is crucial to social and academic capacity. To gain an understanding of these processes, it is important to learn about diverse cultural conceptions and practices in relation to well-being from the perspectives of a range of community members, including students, families, teachers, administrators, and community leaders.  In this interdisciplinary study, we are working within a culturally diverse school setting in which the majority of students are classified by the school district as socioeconomically disadvantaged.  Within many households, English is not the first language.  We employ multiple methods in English and in Spanish, including ethnographic interviews and observations, psychological screening questionnaires, and mobile health technology.  Because emotional self-regulation has been shown to be a source of strength and stability for students, we pilot test a brief relaxation technique. Hypothesized positive effects (for academic, emotional wellbeing, social engagement, and academic status), we utilize the “Breathe” app among students participating in the study.  Possible benefits may include reduction in commonly occurring types of distress such as anxiety, depression, hyperactivity, or inattention.  Knowledge from the study will be shared with school and community groups.