Publication Date


Date of Final Oral Examination (Defense)


Type of Culminating Activity


Degree Title

Master of Public Health in Systems Analysis and Innovation


Community and Environmental Health

Major Advisor

Megan Smith, Ph.D.


Mike Mann, Ph.D.


Jean Mutchie, M.B.A.


Recent studies have suggested that mattering may influence both self-esteem and depression, and the perception of not mattering can lead to suicide ideation, attempts, or completion. When young people perceive they matter to those in their social environment, that sense of mattering can act as a protective factor. Existing research supports the notion that mattering is salient to adolescent development and, importantly, potentially malleable which could make it a prevention/intervention factor. The current study endeavored to identify contributing factors to adolescent perceived mattering and to test the Theory of Mattering in an adolescent population when predicting mental health outcomes. A secondary analysis on a large adolescent sample (n=6,343) collected in a mid-Atlantic state was conducted. Data were analyzed through a Hierarchical Multiple Regression and Structural Equation Modeling (SEM) to test the Theory of Mattering and to better understand the key variables that contribute to the perception of mattering. Findings support family, school, and peer factors significantly contribute to mattering and the Theory of Mattering held when empirically tested, and significantly predicted both depression and suicidal ideation. The study provides support for several keyways in which public health professionals can bolster adolescent environments to increase perceived mattering and promote the best possible health outcomes for young people.