Stress and Depression Matter: Analysis of Preliminary Results

Now that my file of data from our United States schools is complete, I’ve started preliminary data analyses and things are looking good! Regression analysis showed that both mentor depression and mentor early life stress statistically significantly impacted the mentoring relationship.

We found that higher levels of mentor depression at baseline negatively correlated to mentor perception of the relationship at follow-up. This means that mentors with higher levels of depression at the beginning of the relationship were more likely to report lower levels of satisfaction within the relationship. We also found that mentor depression positively correlated to mentor avoidance in the relationship. The higher a mentor’s baseline depressive symptoms, the more likely they were to report avoidant behavior (such as not opening up to their mentee) at the end of the relationship. These findings demonstrate potential barriers to the mentoring relationship that depression may pose. In order to minimize these barriers and strengthen the relationship, mentoring programs could adjust their recruiting and training procedures to more effectively support mentors in their programs who exhibit depressive symptoms.

We also found that a mentor’s history of early life stress positively correlated to their mentee’s perception of the relationship. Mentees matched with mentors who reported high levels of stress or trauma in early childhood (ages 0-15) reported higher rates of satisfaction within the relationship with their mentor than mentees matched with mentors with low or normal rates of childhood stress. I found this finding particularly interesting because opens up so many more questions. What is it about these mentors that make their relationships with youth so strong? Are mentors in college who come from high stress backgrounds more mature or empathetic than mentors who come from average stress backgrounds? Are they more resilient?

Since this study is so new in the mentoring field, these results have the opportunity to shape further research and allow us to better understand predictors of mentoring relationship quality!! Next time I’ll spend some time talking about the current body of mentoring literature and explain more in detail how my study both fits with this literature and how it is unique.


  1. Jehan Narielvala says:

    This is some really interesting stuff and I look forward to seeing where this project takes you. I was really surprised by the fact that mentees matched with mentors who reported high levels of stress or trauma reported higher levels of satisfaction. What qualitative findings have you discovered that would help us understand why this might be the case?

  2. egpreston says:

    Hi Jehan!

    At this point, our data does not give us enough information to make a claim about the reason for this trend, however a likely reason for this trend is that the bulk of youth included in this study come from underserved schools and high risk communities. It is possible that mentors with similar stressful backgrounds connect better with these youth because they can empathize with them more than mentors without such a stressful history. I plan to research this hypothesis as well as others as I work on my paper!