MA Research Paper

Degree

Master of Arts

Program

Sociology

Supervisor

Dr. Kim Shuey

Abstract

Existing research indicates that neighbourhood disadvantage takes a cumulative toll on mental health across the life course beginning in childhood. This study used a qualitative approach to explore the role of local community resources on buffering the harmful effects of adversity for youth in a mid-sized Ontario urban centre. The following questions were addressed: 1) What role do youth-centered community resources play in child and adolescent mental health promotion and awareness, particularly for at-risk children? 2) How can they serve to improve child and adolescent well-being? By interviewing key informants, the study found that affordable youth-centred programming has the potential to act as a critical turning point in the life course of at-risk youth (i.e., those from disadvantaged neighbourhoods). Community-based programs provided opportunities for the acquisition of essential life skills and supportive interpersonal relationships, thereby fostering resilience and reducing the likelihood of unfavourable mental health outcomes. The study contributes to our understanding of how informal supports have the potential to promote the psychological well-being of disadvantaged youth.


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