Adventure based experiential learning and adolescents' self-reported levels of self-regulation and positive mental health
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The aim of this study was to determine self-reported levels of self-regulation and positive mental health within a group of adolescents before and after participation in an adventure based programme. It also intended to deepen our understanding of the relationship between self-regulation and positive mental health within this group of participants. Researchers have indicated that mental disorders amongst adolescents are significantly prevalent and on the increase across the globe (Keyes, 2006; Patel, Flisher, Hetrick & McGorry, 2007). A body of literature has shown that both adventure programmes (Lane, 1997) and successful self-regulation (Schmeichel & Baumeister, 2004) may positively affect adolescent developmental outcomes and mental health (Lane, 1997; Perkins, Cortina, Smith-Darden & Graham-Bermann, 2011). Despite the crucial role that self-regulation plays in these developmental outcomes, very little literature could be found regarding the significance of self-regulation in such programmes in order to facilitate the positive mental health of adolescents. This study forms part of the overarching TREA (Training Resilience through Eco-Adventure) project, conceptualized by a team of researchers from the North-West University and representatives from Outward Bound South Africa (OBSA). The TREA project’s long-term objective is to contribute to the development of eco-adventure group intervention programmes, and to determine its impact on the facilitation of resilience, and the restoration and promotion of the bio-psycho-social health and well-being of individuals in Southern Africa. The proposed study forms part of the first phase of the TREA project, which aims to determine the impact of existing adventure programmes and interventions. Ethical permission for the TREA project and for the current sub-study was obtained from the Health Research Ethics Committee (NWU-00109-13-A1) before commencement of data collection. Individual written consent was sought from all the participants and their parents/legal guardians before the collection of data. The data was collected by means of three self-report questionnaires: (1) Short Self-Regulation Questionnaire (Carey, Neill & Collins, 2004); (2) Mental Health Continuum- Short Form (Keyes, 2006); and (3) General Health Questionnaire-28 (Goldberg & Hiller, 1979). The questionnaires were presented in booklet format during a formal visit to the participating schools about six weeks prior to the intervention, on site directly after the completion of the programme in order to collect post test data, and approximately six weeks after the intervention to determine the longevity of any changes that may have been observed in the participants’ levels of self-regulation and mental health. The results of this study showed significant increases in the participants’ self-reported levels of self-regulation and positive mental health after participating in the OBSA adventure programme. The most significant increases were observed in participants’ Social Well-being with the most significant decreases seen in Anxiety and Insomnia, and Social Dysfunction. Furthermore, it was found that the male subgroup reported significantly higher levels of mental health than their female peers after participating in the adventure programme. Finally the results indicated a strong positive correlation between participants’ self-regulation and mental health and a strong negative correlation between their self-regulation and symptomatology. This strong association between self-regulation and mental health as well as the possible role that the adventure programme had in this regard, can play an important role in future attempts toward health promotion amongst adolescents.
- Health Sciences