U of M conducts study on the emotional well being of White Station students


Caitlin Tate

Cameron Leith(12) takes a comprehensive, 60 question survey conducted by U of M graduate principal graduate researchers Xu Jiang and Allyson Topps. The survey is being used to find how psychological strengths predict better social-emotional well being in adolescents.

By Caitlin Tate, White Station High School

On Jan. 17, White Station participated in a University of Memphis study, which was partially developed by White Station’s own alum Allyson Topps. The main goal of the study according to Psychology  assistant professor  Xu Jiang was to discover how “psychological strengths predict better social-emotional well being in adolescents.”

The principal researchers decided to explore this concept because of the lack of research surrounding the topic.

“…For many years, researchers have been primarily focusing on how susceptible adolescents are to many kinds of risk and how problems are developed during this risky period. However, less is known regarding what positive characteristics adolescents have that can help them be resistant to the risks and go through a healthy transition to adulthood,” Jiang said.

White Station was the only school chosen out of Shelby County to participate in this study because of its diverse student population.

“White Station has a diverse student body, which means students’ reports can represent a wide variety of experiences and characteristics. Then the findings based on the sample can be applied to a larger population of adolescents,” Jiang said.

Jiang and other researchers hypothesize that the results will show that a person with stronger psychological strengths, such as a stronger attachment to their ethnic identity, can protect people from external stressors.

Students, like Cameron Leith (12), who takes AP Research, acknowledge the importance of this research conducted at White Station.

“I think it’s important because there has been a rise in depression and anxiety in teens. It’s important to make sure the youth is remaining stable and that everyone is able to have the emotional support that they need,” Leith said. “I hope that she can present it to our school board and that changes can be made so that students can get the emotional support that they need.”

Comprehensive results of their research are expected to come out during the summer and will be presented to the board of White Station officials so White Station can better support students’ psychological well-being.

This story was originally published on The Scroll on February 13, 2020.