PhD protocol presentations by Sue Struengmann Initiative fellows Mirriam Mkhize and Chesney Ward-Smith

The Sue Struengmann Initiative (SSI) funded by the Sue Struengmann family was formally established in July 2020. This initiative seeks to ensure the provision of high-quality interventions for the prevention and treatment of mental health problems among this vulnerable group. The scholarships funded by the SSI have been established to provide support for two PhD students to join the team in the Alan J. Flisher Centre for Public Mental Health

Addressing the mental health needs of young adolescents in the Western Cape Province of South Africa by Mirriam Mkhize (20 July 2021)

Abstract

Common mental disorders (namely, anxiety and depression) are prevalent among adolescents throughout the world. Globally, between 10 and 20% of children and adolescents are estimated to be experiencing mental disorders. Particularly in Low and Middle Income Countries (LMICs), data on mental disorders among adolescents is sparce. Given the mental health treatment gap in LMICs, most mental disorders among young adolescents remain underdiagnosed and underreported. The overall aim of this study is to address the mental health needs of young adolescents (specifically aged 10-14years old) in South Africa.  In order to achieve this aim, this study includes the following objectives: (1) To determine the prevalence, risk and protective factors associated with common mental disorders among young adolescents aged 10 to 14 years in school settings in the Western Cape Province; (2) To validate and determine the psychometric properties of mental health screening tools among young adolescents aged 10 to 14 years including the Generalized Anxiety Disorder Screen 7 (GAD-7), Center Epidemiological Studies Depression Scale for children (CES-DC), and the Patient Health Questionnaire Adolescent (PHQ-A); (3) To co-adapt the Early Adolescent Skills for Emotions (EASE) intervention for use among South African adolescents aged 10 to 14 years living in the Western Cape Province, who are experiencing symptoms of anxiety or depression; and (4) To determine the acceptability and feasibility of the adapted EASE program for young adolescents aged 10 to 14 years living in community settings, who have symptoms of anxiety or depression

Please view the presentation below.

An exploration of common mental disorders and emotion regulation among South African adolescents by Chesney Ward-Smith (20 July 2021)

Abstract

Adolescence is a unique, formative, and challenging phase of life, characterised by intersecting physical, emotional, cognitive, interpersonal as well as external contextual changes. Within this milieu of change and challenge, adolescents, especially those living in Africa, bear the burden of common mental disorders (CMDs), specifically depression and anxiety. Furthermore, the majority of the world’s adolescents live in contexts where psychological aid is not always available or accessible. South African adolescent mental health research, although limited, shows that older adolescents (15-18 year olds) also bear the burden of CMDs and that few indicated psychosocial interventions for CMDs are available for this vulnerable population. Transdiagnostic approaches that centralise strengthening adaptive Emotion Regulation (ER) skills may hold promise for addressing CMDs among older adolescents. Using a three-phase mixed-methods design, this study aims to (1) determine local prevalence estimates and determinants of CMDs, as well as examine the psychometric properties of an ER measure for use among older South African adolescents, (2) using a Human-Centered Design approach, co-create an innovative, evidence-based ER intervention for use among older adolescents at risk of CMDs and, (3) determine the acceptability and feasibility of the co-created ER intervention for use among older adolescents at risk of CMDs.

Please view the presentation below.

Kevin Ernstzen