Depression and Anxiety Symptoms Among Kenyan adolescents: Prevalence Rates and Associations with Socio-demographic and Psycho-social Factors During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Tom Osborn, Brenda Ochuku, Katherine Venturo-Conerly, Natalie Johnson, Thomas Rusch, John Weisz, Christine Wasanga

Publikation: Working/Discussion PaperWorking Paper/Preprint


Background: Research dedicated to youth mental health problems in low – resource countries is an urgent and critical global health priority. Prior to COVID-19, only a handful of studies had estimated the prevalence rates of youth depression and anxiety and identified the associations between these problems with socio-demographic and psychosocial variables. As COVID-19 has emerged as a stressor for youth mental health, new studies on youth mental health during and post COVID-19 may yield important research, policy, and practice implications. Here, we assessed the prevalence of depression and anxiety symptoms and their associations with psychosocial and sociodemographic variables in a large sample of school-going youths in Kenya.
Method: Measures of depression (PHQ-8) and anxiety (GAD-7), social support, perseverance, optimism, perceived control, connectedness, happiness, purpose in life, and gratitude were administered to 1,498 Kenyan adolescents (55.47% male) aged 13-to-21 years (M age = 16.33) in mid-2021 when schools re-opened after the COVID–19 school closures.
Results: Some 42.46% and 37.56% youths met the clinical cut-off for elevated depression and anxiety symptoms, respectively. Adolescents whose academic performance was not satisfactory endorsed higher depressive and anxiety symptoms. Female adolescents and those who lived with a single parent endorsed higher depressive and anxiety symptoms, respectively. Subjective
wellbeing and perceived control were negatively associated with depressive symptoms.
Conclusion: The prevalence of depression and anxiety symptoms among Kenyan adolescents has remained steady when compared to pre-pandemic studies. However, symptoms were high when compared to those of adolescents in other countries during COVID-19. This study also identified potential important risk and protective factors.
HerausgeberPsyArXiv Preprints
PublikationsstatusVeröffentlicht - 2022