Stability and change of adolescent coping
styles and mental health


Bernd Heubeck
James T. Neill

Paper presented to the 11th Australasian Human Development Conference, July 8-10, Sydney, Australia, 1999


A large study (N = 666) examined the effects of 9 day Australian outdoor programs on adolescents' coping styles and mental health.  Contrary to expectations, overall use of coping strategies decreased in comparison to the control group. In addition, although there were gains in mental health, the control group also improved. Finally, a moderate relationship was evident between coping styles and mental health. Longitudinally, however, these links were only small.  Possible explanations which warrant further investigation were: (i) Reduced use of coping strategies may indicate that adolescents have become more effective in their coping as a result of the outdoor intervention; (ii) Validity concerns about the psychometric structure of the instrument (Adolescent Coping Scale); (iii) Outdoor education programs for schools tend to operate with a general educational philosophy but do not specifically target intervention for coping behaviours.

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