Most mentoring programs take a non-specific, “friendship” approach. Yet more targeted (i.e., personalized) forms of mentoring are twice as effective!

Strong mentor-youth relationships are essential–but it is  equally important to directly address the specific needs and circumstances of mentees. Research suggests that, relative to non-specific friendship approaches, targeted approaches are more effective. We recently conducted a meta-analysis sought to examine the relative impact of these two distinct approaches to formal mentoring. When type of program was examined, targeted and more problem-specific programs had an average effect size that was more than double the average effect size non-specific, friendship-based programs. Targeted programs were three times more effective than non-specific programs in improving academic, psychological, and social functioning. The mood ring feature enables this sort of specification.

The science of targeted mentoring

To determine what to target, we have adopted the widely-used “Top Problems” measure, developed by Harvard University researchers, into the MoodRing on MentorHub. The Mood Ring is meant to complement regular assessments and to focus the mentoring relationships on the problems that mentees consider most important.

MentorHub graphs weekly progress on the MoodRing for easy access to mentees, mentors, and programs . To accomplish this, MentorHub has incorporated sophisticated data collection techniques (e.g., time sampling youth’s moods, period assessments, automatic scoring, and visualization of data) which, aided by machine learning, can simplify and improve the capacity of programs to monitor and evaluate their efforts. Increasing the frequency, accuracy, and efficiency of data collection and analysis has potentially far-reaching effects (e.g., enabling early detection of problems and more targeted support as well as reducing the need for costly program evaluations).

Youth-initiated mentoring: A scalable approach to addressing mental health problems

Viewpoint (Reprinted from the Journal of the American Medical Association Psychiatry, Published online April 28, 2021. doi:10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2021.0490) By Levi van Dam,  Jean Rhodes, and Renée Spencer, Although adolescents have lower… [...]

Want to double your effects? Hopeful lessons from a new meta-analysis

By Jean Rhodes and Kirsten Christensen In a recent study of nearly 2,000 mentors from thirty nationally representative youth mentoring programs operating across the United States, mentors were asked how… [...]

Relying on youth mentoring programs for mental health services: Challenges and implications

by Jean Rhodes In a recent issue of  Cultural Diversity and Ethnic Minority Psychology  psychologists Miguel Villodas and Alejandro Vázquez, published a study that has important implications for the future… [...]

Two new studies highlight the need for more targeted mentoring

by Jean Rhodes Doctoral student, Alejandro Vázquez, and his faculty mentor, Professor Miguel Villodas had a hunch. They suspected that caregivers were seeking out volunteer mentoring programs as an alternative… [...]