Country urged to take closer look at depression among youth

SEVEN out of every 10 individuals in a 2018 study involving people from four rural parishes have experienced depression, leading to a call for “closer examination of the factors contributing to depression among Jamaican youth”.

An analysis of the data from the study, which featured 154 participants aged 18 to 30 years over the period January 2017 to December 2018, showed that approximately 71.4 per cent reported some symptoms of depression, with 16.9 per cent reporting mild symptoms, 22.7 per cent reporting moderate symptoms, and 31.8 per cent reporting severe symptoms.

Symptoms most prevalent in the sample included: sadness, 73.9 per cent; punishment feelings, 70.7 per cent; guilty feelings, 67.5 per cent; and self-dislike, 67.5 per cent.

However, the study, which was authored by psychologist Denise Simpson; Kenneth Barnes, a social worker with the security ministry; and counselling psychologist Melva Spence, said the majority of the sample (60 per cent) said they “did not have thoughts of killing themselves”.

They said the results also showed that there were significant differences by gender in the prevalence of depressive symptoms with females being more likely to report symptoms than males. In addition, participants who reported having primary or all-age as the highest level of education were more likely to report those symptoms than those with secondary or high school education.

Researchers utilised the Beck Depression Inventory instrument (BDI) in the initial assessment of the study participants. The BDI is a 21 item, self-report rating inventory that measures cognitive, effective and somatic symptoms of depression. Other measures of socio-demographic background were also collected.

The group, in their recommendations and conclusions, among other things, said the findings warrant closer examination of the factors contributing to depression among Jamaican Youth.

Research led by The University of West Indies in 2013 found that 71.9 per cent of high school students were suffering from mild to severe symptoms of depression.

In the meantime, a ‘disclaimer’ within the document, a copy of which was sent to the Jamaica Observer, stated “the opinions expressed in this publication were those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the point of view of the Ministry of National Security, the Inter-American Development Bank, the Department for International Development UK or Global Affairs Canada”.

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