Anxiety Disorders; Mental Health Issues Affecting Adolescents In Kenya – Research
New research indicates that over 44% of teens have experienced a mental health issue in the past 12 months.
According to a survey conducted between March and July 2021 by the African Population and Health Research Center on the National Adolescent Mental Health, anxiety was the most prevalent disorder among adolescents in Kenya.
Overall, there were no significant differences by age or gender for mental health issues.
However, boys were more likely than girls to have inattention (20%) and hyperactivity (16%) conduct issues (11 percent and 6 percent, respectively).
The report stated, “Of the mental health disorders evaluated, anxiety was the most prevalent (26.7%), followed by problems with inattention and/or hyperactivity (18.2%).”
Anxiety had the highest reported frequency among males and females (26.2% and 27.2%, respectively) of any specified mental health condition.
From March to July 2021, the APHRC, in collaboration with The University of Queensland and Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, conducted a nationally representative household survey of adolescents and their primary carers.
Five thousand one hundred fifty-five adolescents aged 10 to 17 and their primary carers were questioned across fourteen counties.
The majority of teenagers were now enrolled in school and had never worked.
The following five mental disorders were evaluated: anxiety disorders (including social phobia and generalized anxiety disorder), major depressive disorder, conduct disorder, posttraumatic stress disorder, and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder.
These diseases were evaluated using the Diagnostic Interview Schedule for Children, Version 5 (DISC-5), a diagnostic instrument designed exclusively for children and adolescents (DISC-5).
Adolescents with mental health issues met at least half of the DISC-5 diagnostic criteria for a given mental disorder but not all diagnostic criteria.
Those with mental disorders met all Diagnostic and Statistical Manual-Fifth Edition diagnostic criteria for a mental condition (DSM-5).
The research stated, “Few adolescents reported suicidal behavior in the past year, and just 2.1% admitted ever having tried suicide.”
Over 80% of those who endorsed suicidal behavior (ideation, planning, and/or attempt) in the previous 12 months had a mental health condition, and nearly 50% had a mental disorder.
Younger adolescents (ages 10 to 13) exhibited a higher prevalence of issues with inattention or hyperactivity (21 percent) compared to older adolescents (ages 14 to 17). (ages 14 to 17 years; 15 percent).
Older adolescents exhibited a higher rate of depression (10%) and posttraumatic stress (7%). (4.6 and 4.4 percent, respectively).
The report states, “Of the 44.3% of teenagers with mental health problems, two-thirds had some level of impairment, such as emotional anguish, difficulty in relationships with caregivers, difficulties spending time with family or peers, and difficulties with school or job.”
A mental disorder is defined as a clinically significant behavioral or psychological syndrome or pattern that occurs in a person and is connected with current distress.
For instance, a painful symptom or disability (impairment in one or more essential areas of functioning) and a greatly elevated risk of mortality, pain, disability, or a major loss of freedom.
According to DSM-5, one in eight adolescents (12.2%) matched the criteria for a mental condition.
Except for certain specific mental disorders, there was no difference between males (13%) and females (11.2%) in the overall prevalence of mental disorders.
Male adolescents exhibited a greater prevalence of ADHD (4.7% versus 2.3% in female adolescents) and conduct disorder (4% versus 1.5%) than female adolescents.
Among younger adolescents, the prevalence of ADHD was higher (4.8%) than among older adolescents (2%).
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Older adolescents showed a higher prevalence of major depressive disorder and conduct disorder than younger adolescents.
A mental health condition is comparable to a mental disorder in that it similarly affects how a person thinks, feels, and behaves, albeit to a lower level than a mental disorder.
Nevertheless, it can be a temporary or acute response to diverse life circumstances.