Methods: Our sample includes 1,088 individuals aged 20 to 28 at the time of the 2011 Panel Study of Income Dynamics (PSID) Transition into Adulthood Supplement (TAS) who were aged 12 to 18 during the 2002 PSID Child Development Supplement (CDS-II). Items from the three languishing/flourishing subscales3 in the TAS 2011 were used to create a dichotomous flourishing variable. We utilize a framework of healthy development among young adults to select indicators from eight core dimensions. Univariate tests and bivariate tests were used to describe the prevalence of flourishing during young adulthood and relationships between indicators from each dimension and flourishing. A multivariable logistic regression was used to examine the relationships among indicators of healthy development and flourishing mental health in young adulthood, controlling for adolescent flourishing.
Results: Most young adults (62.5%) have flourishing mental health. Bivariate results show adolescent flourishing is related to flourishing in young adulthood, as are indicators from six of the eight dimensions of healthy young adult development. Multivariable logistic regression results indicate that flourishing during adolescence is significantly associated with higher odds of young adult flourishing (OR=1.50, p<.05), as is voting (OR=1.86, p<.05), and confidence about problem-solving abilities (OR=1.83, p<.05). Conversely, reporting Hispanic ethnicity (OR=.30, p<.001), higher levels of psychological distress (OR=.84, p<.001), and more frequent perceptions of everyday discrimination (OR=.96, p<.05) are associated with lower odds of flourishing.
Conclusions: Unlike adolescence, by young adulthood most study participants have flourishing mental health. Additionally, flourishing mental health is related to key dimensions of healthy development, including civic engagement, life skills, ethical behavior, physical health, and healthy family and social relationships. Some of these relationships – specifically civic engagement and confidence in problem-solving abilities – persist even when controlling for flourishing status in adolescence. Overall, results suggest the transition from adolescence into young adulthood may provide an opportunity for promoting positive mental health as an important, malleable factors that contributes to healthy development into adulthood.
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- Scales PC, Benson PL, Oesterle S, Hill KG, Hawkins JD, Pashak TJ. The dimensions of successful young adult development: A conceptual and measurement framework. Appl Dev Sci. 2016;20(3):150-174. doi:10.1080/10888691.2015.1082429
- Keyes CLM. The Mental Health Continuum: From Languishing to Flourishing in Life. J Health Soc Behav. 2002;43(2):207. doi:10.2307/3090197