Mentors enhance resilience in at-risk children and adolescents

Steven M. Southwick, Charles A. Morgan, Meena Vythilingam, Dennis Charney

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

36 Scopus citations


Mentors can play an important role in promoting resilience among at-risk children and adolescents. Nonparental adults who serve as mentors can provide reliable support, communicate moral values, teach information and skills, inspire, motivate, enhance interpersonal relatedness, and foster self-esteem. A number of researchers have reported that at-risk children who have mentors, especially nonparental kin, exhibit fewer problem behaviors, more positive attitudes towards school, greater school efficacy, less marijuana use, less nonviolent delinquency, and lower levels of anxiety and depression. The most successful mentors are those who invest time and energy and have frequent and prolonged contact with the children they guide. The relationship between mentoring and resilience in at-risk children and adolescents may best be understood from psychological, social, and neurobiological perspectives. As described and recommended by Allen and Hauser, the in-depth analysis of narratives provided by at-risk children and adolescents, particularly over the course of their development into young adulthood, will undoubtedly help researchers to isolate specific features of mentoring that are critical for fostering resilience.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)577-584
Number of pages8
JournalPsychoanalytic Inquiry
Issue number4
StatePublished - Sep 2006


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