BOX 7-6

Big Brothers Big Sisters

Big Brothers Big Sisters is a community-based mentoring program that matches an adult volunteer (Big Brother or Sister) to a child ages 6-18 from a single-parent household (Little Brother or Sister), with the expectation that a supportive relationship will solidify. The match is well supported by mentor training and ongoing supervision and monitoring by professional staff. An experimental design using random assignment was used to evaluate the Big Brother Big Sisters Program at eight sites across the country (Grossman and Tierney, 1998; Tierney, Grossman, and Resch, 1995). This study, although limited by the lack of long-term follow-up data after the 18-month intervention period and little information about site-level variability, had several positive findings. Youth in the treatment group (including both those who received a mentor and those who did not) had higher grade point averages, attended school more often, and reported better parental relationships and more parental trust despite lack of improvement in other related areas. They were less likely to initiate drug and alcohol use than those in the control group and also reported hitting others less often. Aos, Lieb, and colleagues (2004) cite Big Brothers Big Sisters as a mentoring program whose benefits exceed its costs.

programs; they have also been recommended by Blueprints for Violence Prevention.

Lifestyle Factors That Promote Mental Health and Prevent Mental, Emotional, and Behavioral Disorders

Evidence from a small but growing set of observational and interventional studies indicates that modifications in a number of lifestyle factors, including sleep, diet, activity and physical fitness, sunshine and light, and television viewing, can promote mental health. Of these factors, the opportunity is perhaps strongest for the salutary effects of adequate sleep and certain nutritional elements, such as adequate iron content in the diet. In many cases, intervention studies related to lifestyle factors have documented physical health benefits. Given the strong connections between physical and mental health, improvements in both may be achievable using common approaches.

Attempts to modify lifestyle factors can appropriately be centered on families and the activities of the medical care community, promoted in the context of schools and community organizations, or accomplished through policy decisions. It should be noted that in many families, there are substantial barriers to promotion and prevention related to lack of knowledge, as



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