Peer-Assisted Social Learning for Diverse and Low-Income Youth: Infusing Mental Health Promotion Into Urban After-School Programs

Adm Policy Ment Health. 2018 Mar;45(2):286-301. doi: 10.1007/s10488-017-0823-0.


Community-based after-school programs (ASPs) can promote social competence by infusing evidence-based practice into recreation. Through collaborative partnership, we developed and implemented a peer-assisted social learning (PASL) model to leverage natural opportunities for peer-mediated problem-solving. ASP-Staff (n = 5) led elementary-school youth (n = 30) through 21 activities that partnered socially-skilled and less-skilled children; outcomes were compared to children (n = 31) at another site, via quasi-experimental design. Findings were mixed, including strong evidence for fidelity (adherence) and feasibility (attendance, participation, enthusiasm) of implementation. Relative to Comparison children, PASL children demonstrated improved social skills and behavior, but no changes in problem-solving, peer likability, or social network status.

Keywords: After-school program; Feasibility; Peer-assisted learning; Social competence.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Community Health Centers / organization & administration*
  • Female
  • Health Promotion / methods*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Peer Group
  • Poverty*
  • Problem Solving*
  • School Health Services / organization & administration*
  • Social Learning*
  • Urban Population*