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What “stresses out” South African teens?

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Adolescence is a time of immense disruption and flux, and often, of immense stress. With so much going on, trying to ‘rank’ the many sources of stress in the lives of adolescents is a daunting task. Interestingly, research published in the South African Journal of Psychiatry in 2012 (Vol 18, No 3) shed light on the sources of depression and anxiety for some South African teens, with thought-provoking results.

The paper, entitled “Depression and anxiety among Grade 11 and 12 learners attending schools in central Bloemfontein”, by Strydom, Pretorius & Joubert (2012) assessed over 500 students. The results showed an alarmingly high rate of learners suffering from varying degrees of anxiety (61.2%), much higher than the adult prevalence rate in South Africa (23%).

The identified sources of stress were ranked as:

  • Academic workload (81.4%)
  • Future plans (77.8%)
  • Relationship with parents (43.1%)
  • Situation at home (43%)
  • Love relationship (36.7%)
  • Relationship with friends (31.6%)
  • Relationship with teachers (12.1%)

The authors also highlighted that very few adolescents were accessing professional services, and made suggestions around early identification of mental health difficulties, and made recommendations for peer support programmes. If you’re an adolescent (or the parent of an adolescent), do you know what support is available?

The full paper can be accessed online here: Depression and anxiety among Grade 11 and 12 learners attending schools in central Bloemfontein | Strydom | South African Journal of Psychiatry (Vol 18, No 3, 2012).

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