Early Academic Competence Linked to Later Depression

Low Academic Competence in First Grade as a Risk Factor for Depressive Cognitions and Symptoms in Middle School
Keith C. Herman, Wendy M. Reinke, Sharon F. Lambert, Nicholas S. Ialongo
Source: Source: Journal of Counseling Psychology

The present study investigated the role of low academic competence in the emergence of depressive cognitions and symptoms. Structural equation modeling was conducted on a longitudinal sample of African American boys (n = 253) and girls (n = 221). Results supported the hypothesized path models from academic competence in 1st grade to depressive symptoms in 7th grade, controlling for a host of correlated constructs (conduct problems, inattention, social problems). Perceived control in 6th grade mediated the effect of academic competence on depressive symptoms. Although the models fit the data well for both boys and girls, the path coefficients were notably larger for girls; in particular, multiple group analysis revealed a statistically stronger effect of low academic competence on perceptions of control for girls. The study and findings fit well with counseling psychologists’ commitment to prevention activities and to culture-specific research. Implications for designing interventions and prevention strategies for children with early academic problems are discussed.

American Psychological Association Press Release
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