With a Little Help from My Friends: Profiles of Perceived Social Support and Their Associations with Adolescent Mental Health

Kimberly J. Petersen*, Pamela Qualter, Neil Humphrey, Mogens Trab Damsgaard, Katrine Rich Madsen

*Corresponding author for this work

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Abstract

This study investigated profiles of perceived social support and their associations with mental health indicators for male and female adolescents. The sample was a nationally representative group of Danish adolescents age 13–16 years (Male N = 1114; Female N = 1065). Latent profile analysis was used to identify profiles of perceived social support from different sources (classmate, teacher, family, friend). Three distinct profiles of perceived social support were identified for both genders: ‘High’ support from all sources (54.4% of males; 55.5% of females), ‘Moderate’ support from all sources (31.6% of males; 28.8% of females) and ‘Low friend’ support with moderate support from other sources (13.9% of males; 15.7% of females). The ‘high’ perceived support profile was associated with optimal mental health; the ‘moderate’ perceived support profile was associated with lower wellbeing and more frequent emotional symptoms; and the ‘low friend’ perceived support profile was associated with the lowest levels of wellbeing and, specifically for females, higher frequency of emotional symptoms. Results highlight typical profiles of perceived social support among adolescents, and demonstrate nuanced associations between perceived social support and mental health indicators, with notable gender differences.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Child and Family Studies
Volume32
Issue number11
Pages (from-to)3430-3446
ISSN1062-1024
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2023

Keywords

  • Adolescents
  • Latent profile analysis
  • Mental health
  • Psychological wellbeing
  • Social support

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