Reference: Anderson, A. J., Jones, K. V., Melton, T. N., Keller, T. E., & DuBois, D. L. (2023). Identifying predictors of psychological well-being among volunteer mentors in Big Brothers Big Sisters. Journal of Community Psychology.

Summarized by Ariel Ervin

About the Study

Although there is a plethora of research that investigates the relationship between mentoring program engagement and positive youth outcomes, fewer studies assess how program engagement affects outcomes for adult mentors. Research on volunteerism indicates that helping others is beneficial for adults’ health. Given how psychological well-being is linked to physical health and reduced mortality later in life, this study pinpoints potential factors that influence mentors’ psychological well-being throughout the Big Brothers Big Sisters (BBBS) program. By having a more comprehensive understanding of how mentoring programs, like BBBS, influence mentors, this research provides valuable insights on improving program effectiveness for mentors and mentees.

Main Findings:

  • Match length and perceived quality of support and supervision predicted changes in volunteer mentors’ well-being throughout their time in the program. 
  • Longer mentorships and more positive perceptions about the quality of program supervision led to more beneficial shifts in mentors’ psychological well-being. 
  • Volunteer mentors who experienced premature match termination (had a mentoring relationship that lasted less than 4.5 months) said that their psychological well-being dwindled, indicating that mentorships that end early can harm mentors. 
  • Positive relationships between mentors and program staff members can promote positive mentor-mentee interactions, improve mentor satisfaction, and encourage mentors to commit to mentoring.   

Implications for Mentoring

This study sheds light on an important yet often overlooked topic on youth mentoring-the impact program engagement has on the well-being of adult mentors. The results indicate that volunteer mentoring can bolster mentors’ psychological well-being and that the quality and nature of their volunteer experiences have implications for their well-being. This highlights the importance of offering program support in volunteer and non-profit organizations, like BBBS, that promote intergenerational relationships. After all, mentoring relationships not only have an influential impact on youths but mentors as well.

To read the full study, click here.