ESRC Seminar Series  Young People and the Benefits and Costs of Mentoring for their Networks of Social Support

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ESRC Seminar Series Young People and the Benefits and Costs of Mentoring for their Networks of Social Support

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1. ESRC Seminar Series Young People and the Benefits and Costs of Mentoring for their Networks of Social Support Dr. Pat Dolan Child and Family Research Centre National University of Ireland, Galway

2. Specific objectives :  To consider key factors in social support networks and why for young people this is important  To explore mentoring in relation to factors in social support ‘natural helping’ Positive and Negative implications  construct possibilities for policy and practice of mentoring and social network interventions

3. Considerations Consider why people offer to mentor or why people work formally in helping professions? Interest in humans helping humans within a core concept of practice ‘caring perspective’ A belief that people can overcome adversity – a belief that we can help people in this task Our own needs to deliver our work, support needed from others to do so

4. Planning and Organisation Service Goal Model Applied to mentoring for youth

5. Thinking about your own need - mentoring if naturally contrived ‘fits the bill’ Who would help you in a crisis? Think of the key people you would turn to Who could you depend on to be there with you and for you Family, Friends, Work colleagues, neighbours Generally not professionals Set of people forms your network May be dependent on context of need

6. Defining Social Support “Responsive acts of assistance between human beings” Tracy and Whittaker (1994) Many definitions all good - but none the same Automatically assumed by most people Proven Buffer to Stress role Proven area of Social Science (From medical research)

9. Sources of Support for Youth Informal Formal Semi-Formal Sources Preferred Source? Benefits of informal networks Amount in Network issues of Network Size

10. Types of Social Support Needed by Young people Concrete Emotional Advice Esteem Weiss (1974) Classification of Types of Support Cutrona (2001)and Transferability of Emotional Support - this transferability is a key issue in practice e.g. research on: Children in care – Stein and Rees 2000 Children (family) with Disability – Kilpatrick 2001 Child protection contexts – Tunstill 2003

11. Qualities of Social Support Closeness Reciprocity Admonishment Durability Note: relationship between four qualities Context of Events and how one views quality of support on offer

13. Potential of mentoring Needs vs.. Assets

14. Issues of Perceived Social Support Perceived support is as important if not more important than received Social Support “Social Support is in the eye of the beholder” Carolyn Cutrona (1995) Note myth of network size as a factor Range of sources important - not pure amount – (Professionals make this mistake regularly!) Note connection to resilience and strengths based perspectives in work with Young people (Gilligan 2000/McGrath 2006)

15. Mentoring and Social Support in Practice Contexts for a young person Human Social Capital Building in a child, family, community Developmental Assets (Benson model) Prospective Social Support Banking – Predictable and contrived coping! Family Welfare Context

16. Limitations of mentoring with youth Issues of construct - ‘evangelical stand alone fidelity’ Spread of Schools on its purpose and value e.g. economic gain v sociability value Dependent on other factors and lost in the perception of priorities by professionals (e.g. often overlooked in child protection cases – Parton 1997) Issues of Recent History - For both mentee and mentor

17. Limitations of mentoring to parenting Evidence is that parents like to have their child mentored (Tierney 1996/Rhodes) ? Possibility of undermining parent middle class mentor v poor mentee + family ? Possibility of Fathers abdicating engagement Increase dependency belief of mothers and fathers All above are ‘uncharted waters’ in research See work of Rhodes; Phillip; Colley.

18. Tools for Measuring mentoring and immpact on social networks in adolescence - which is agenda free! Social Network Map (Tracy and Whittaker, 1984) Social Network Questionnaire (Cutrona and Russell, 1981) Social Provisions Scale Adolescent Version – (Cutrona and Dolan 2002) Bryant - ‘Neighbourhood Walk’ Issues of Reliability and Validity in respect of tools Vs solely ‘testimonial’ evidence

19. Possibilities for mentoring Youth A Friend in respect of !!! In context of direct work as part of a programme plan As part of ‘needs’ led practice As part of resiliency capacity building As part of a buffer to dealing with problems in response to life events In context of working with children in child protection, alternative care and family support Programmes Note common interest value between adult and child Mentor from network or extended family option?

20. Measuring ‘Coping’ as a way of measuring the success of a programme - through a major youth study (first of its kind) Castlebar, Boyle and Ballina NYPs (n=172) Tracking Study over nine months Pre and post with bimonthly measures (n=40) in liaison with a Satisfaction Survey (Gavigan 2001) Social Network Measure (SNM) Social Support (SPS) Mental Health (GHQ) Wellbeing (AWS) Life Events (APES) Staff View

21. Using a Measure with a focus on having enough support and all types less concentration on source which is also more child friendly Social Provisions Scale Cutrona and Russell 1987 (Iowa State University, USA) Fours Source grouping Friends; Parents/Carers; Siblings; Other Adults Four Types of Support Concrete; Emotional; Esteem and Advice Total Score and sub scores User Child Friendly Re-design (Dolan and Cutrona) Family Support for Reflective Practice (Dolan Pinkerton and Canavan – Forthcoming)

23. Some key Findings about young people and their need for support Dolan (2006) 30% of young people had caseness in terms of their mental health High levels of support/ plentiful sources of natural help (an indicator toward choosing the mentor?) Strong ‘incite’ into their problems High levels of support from parents despite difficulties - low support from siblings Extended family important low rate of close friends (20% no close friend) Low show for professionals in networks Improvement across all factors over time by all five measures used and statistically significant relationship between social support and mental health

24. Common Sense - we need to hear more from young people on the capacity of mentoring: Confident of your internal critic! “If I were young again and needed support would mentoring work for me, if so what would be best?”

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