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Accelerating progress towards improved mental health and healthy behaviours in adolescents living in adversity: findings from a longitudinal study in South Africa

Du Toit, Stefani; Haag, Katharina; Skeen, Sarah; Sherr, Lorraine; Orkin, Mark; Rudgard, William E; Marlow, Marguerite; ... Tomlinson, Mark; + view all (2022) Accelerating progress towards improved mental health and healthy behaviours in adolescents living in adversity: findings from a longitudinal study in South Africa. Psychology, Health and Medicine 10.1080/13548506.2022.2108081. (In press). Green open access

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Abstract

Adolescents exposed to high levels of adversity are vulnerable to developing mental health challenges, with long-lasting adverse consequences. Promoting the psychological well-being of adolescents and protecting them from adverse experiences is crucial for their quality of life. There is a need for evidence on which combinations of protective factors can improve the wellbeing of adolescents to inform future programming efforts. We used data from a longitudinal study that took place in Khayelitsha, South Africa, a semi-urban impoverished community in Cape Town. Data were collected from adolescents when they were 12-14 years of age (n = 333) and again at follow-up when they were aged 16-19 years (n = 314). A path analysis was used to estimate associations between access to service, food security, safe environment, family support, and social support and five outcomes related to adolescent mental health and risky behaviours. The fitted model was used to calculate adjusted mean differences comparing different combinations of risk factors. Two protective factors (food security and safe environment) were positively associated with three outcomes relating to mental health and the absence of risky behaviours. Further investigation revealed that the presence of high food security and safer environments was associated with higher adjusted mean scores: +16.2% (p < .0001) in no substance use; +16.5% (p < .0001) in no internalising behaviour, +19.5% (p < .0001) in self-esteem; +12.2% (p < .0001) in positive peer relationships; and +11.4% (p < .0001) in no suicidal ideation. Interventions targeting adolescents, that aim to improve food security together with improving the safety of their environment, are likely to impact their well-being.

Type: Article
Title: Accelerating progress towards improved mental health and healthy behaviours in adolescents living in adversity: findings from a longitudinal study in South Africa
Location: England
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1080/13548506.2022.2108081
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1080/13548506.2022.2108081
Language: English
Additional information: © 2022 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Keywords: Accelerating, Adolescents, Healthy Behaviours, Mental Health
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Population Health Sciences > Institute for Global Health > Infection and Population Health
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Population Health Sciences > Institute for Global Health
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10156880
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