The mental health toll of common school problems that many children encounter every day is not well understood. This study examined individual differences in mood reactivity to naturally occurring school problems using daily diaries, and assessed their prospective associations with youth mental health, three years later. At baseline, 47 children ages 8 to 13 years described common problems at school and mood on a daily basis, for 8 weeks. Thirty-three youth returned for follow-up three years later at ages 11 to 17 years. Children and parents also completed one-time questionnaires about youth mental health at baseline and follow-up. There were individual differences in the within-person associations between school problems and same-day and next-day mood. A greater tendency to react to school problems with more negative mood or less positive mood on the same day predicted more parent-rated internalizing and externalizing problems and child ratings of depression symptoms three years later, relative to baseline levels of symptoms. Daily diaries can help to identify specific targets of psychosocial interventions in real world settings.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Developmental and Educational Psychology
- Psychiatry and Mental health