UBC Faculty Research and Publications

Understanding the Role of Prosocial Behavior in Youth Mental Health: Findings from a Scoping Review Hirani, Saima; Ojukwu, Emmanuela; Bandara, Nilanga Aki


Background: Mental health during a person’s adolescence plays a key role in setting the stage for their mental health over the rest of their life. Hence, initiatives that promote adolescents’ wellbeing are an important public health goal. Helping others can take a variety of forms, and the literature suggests that helping others can positively impact a person’s wellbeing. However, there is a lack of data that synthesizes the impact of helping others on adolescents’ wellbeing. Therefore, this review aims to synthesize the available evidence related to helping others and to youth wellbeing. Methods: A scoping review search was undertaken with no date restrictions. CINAHL, Medline and PyschINFO, were searched for studies that analyzed the relationship between helping others and youth mental health. Results: Data from 213 papers were included in the scoping review. Three main themes were observed: (1) the relationship between helping others and mental health outcomes among youths (positive and negative); (2) factors associated with youth engagement in prosocial behavior (facilitators and barriers); (3) the impact of interventions related to helping others, and to youth mental health (positive and negative). Conclusions: An overwhelmingly positive relationship exists between youth prosocial behavior and its influence on youth mental health.

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