About Our Research
The Rhodes Lab is interested in strategies that help bridge gaps in mental health and other services. Across various projects and collaborating labs, volunteer and paid mentors are being trained to assume the role of paraprofessionals (i.e., helpers to whom an aspect of a professional task is delegated but who are not licensed to practice as professionals) who deliver appropriate engagement, support, and/or service delivery activities under the supervision of professional mental health providers. Particularly given the global shortage of mental health professionals, the length and cost of professional training, the expense and difficulties associated with accessing mental health and wellness services, and the stigma and distrust that professional services carry in many marginalized communities, mentoring programs are well-positioned to help bridge gaps. We are currently testing models in which volunteer mentors provide opportunities for children and adolescents to practice new skills that they are learning in therapy. The hope is that this will raise the effects and integrate the skills into the day-to-day lives of youth and their families.
We are also exploring how mentors can support technology-delivered interventions. The potential of online interventions to offer accessible and low-cost support has been limited by low use and high rates of noncompletion of even the best technology-delivered tools. Engaging marginalized youth and their families in educational and mental health services has always been a challenge and self-administered interventions are no exception, even when teachers and mental health care providers recommend them. In the absence of coaching and support, as many as three quarters of youth disengage from educational and mental health apps after their initial installation. When blended with coaching, however, these tools can produce effects that are more than double those without coaching. That’s why in the new mentoring models we are exploring, mentors are trained to boost students’ engagement by providing them with what behavioral scientists refer to as supportive accountability—that is, regular check-ins, monitoring, troubleshooting, and other interactions.
We have developed a Supportive Accountability platform, MentorHub, and are testing it across multiple contexts—from K-12 to higher education. We have several other projects underway. This includes the collection of the largest-ever data set of children of incarcerated children, comprehensive meta-analyses of various types of mentoring, longitudinal analyses of the most recent wave of the Ad Health data, and evaluations of youth-initiated mentoring approaches across various schools.
Professor Rhodes also provides research training to her graduate students and postdoctoral fellows, along with funding for assistantships, summer salary, and travel to professional meetings and statistical workshops. Her students’ rigorous work has been recognized both within and beyond the university including the Chancellor’s Distinguished Dissertation Award and the APA Division 27’s Dissertation of the Year Award. Many of her students now hold tenured or tenure-track positions at top national and international universities. We are a grant-supported, research-oriented lab so are particularly interested in mentoring graduate students who are obsessed with research, have research experience, and can work independently–but also want to work collaboratively with us on our ongoing projects!
- The role of visitation and parent-child relationship quality in promoting positive outcomes for children of incarcerated parentsKremer, K. P., Christensen, K. M., Stump, K. N., Stelter, R. L., Kupersmidt, J. B., & Rhodes, J. E. (2021). The role of visitation and parent-child relationship quality in promoting positive outcomes for children of incarcerated parents. Child & Family Social Work. [PDF]
- A meta-analysis of the effects of mentoring on youth in foster care
Poon, C. Y. S., Christensen, K. M., & Rhodes, J. E. (2021). A meta-analysis of the effects of mentoring on youth in foster care. Journal of Youth and Adolescence. doi.org/10.1007/s10964-021-01472-6. [PDF]
- Paraprofessional Youth Mentoring: A Framework for Integrating Youth Mentoring with Helping Institutions and Professions
- A longitudinal investigation of first-generation college students’ mentoring relationships during their transition to higher education
Hagler, M. A., Christensen, K. M., & Rhodes, J. E. (2021). A Longitudinal Investigation of First-Generation College Students’ Mentoring Relationships During Their Transition to Higher Education. Journal of College Student Retention: Research, Theory & Practice. doi:10.1177/15210251211022741[PDF]
- Youth initiated mentoring-A scalable approach to addressing mental health problems during the Covid-19 crisis