Mental health of young and adult Africans

Posted on June 8, 2015 12:02 am

A newly published mental health report covering sub saharan Africa has revealed that adolescents with mental health problems reported a high rate of suicidal thoughts and other health-risk behaviors, including smoking, drinking and drug use.Six per cent of 12-19 year olds reported having thought about suicide, while 2.7% had actually made a suicide attempt. Females had higher rates of suicidal ideation than males.When it came to use of substances, 18.2% reported smoking, 45% reported drinking, and 39% said they had used marijuana.Twenty six per cent of Australian children and adolescents aged 4-17 have mental health or behavioral problems.This rate of mental health problems is found in all age and gender groups. Boys were slightly more likely to experience mental health problems than girls.There is a higher prevalence of child and adolescent mental health problems among those living in low-income, step or blended and sole-parent families.

Mental health problems were experienced by 36% of males and 23% of females with weekly household incomes of less than $100, compared to 22% of males and 8% of females living in households with a weekly income of more than $500.For youth living in step or blended families 45% of males, 24% of females and sole parent families 12% of males, 19% of females reported experiencing mental health problems, compared to youth 13% of males, 7% of females living with their original parents together.Only one out of every four young persons with mental health problems had received professional health care.Family doctors, school-based counsellors and paediatricians provide the services that are most frequently used by young people with mental health problems. Younger children between 5-11 years were more likely to visit paediatricians and family doctors, while older children were more likely to visit school-based counseling services.Even among young people with the most severe mental health problems, only 17% receive professional help. Parents reported that help was too expensive or they didn’t know where to get it, and that they thought they could manage on their own.

Men and women experience similar rates of mental illness, but rates are highest for men and women living alone. Similarly, rates of mental disorder were higher among people who were separated or divorced 27% for men and 16% for women.Women are more likely than men to experience anxiety disorders 23% compared with 14% and affective disorders 9% compared with 4%. Men were more than twice as likely as women to have substance abuse disorders 8% compared with 3%, with alcohol use disorders more common than drug use disorders.Women were more likely to have anxiety and affective disorders in combination.Men were more likely to have substance use disorders in combination with either affective or anxiety disorders.Two in ten recent mothers will experience a mild, moderate or severe form of post-natal depression.Though men and women are affected by schizophrenia in approximately equal numbers, women tend to experience later onset, fewer periods of illness and better recovery.Obsessive-compulsive disorder is equally common in males and females.Up to 78% of eating disorders occur in women.Sexual disorders, especially exhibitionism and fetishism, are much more common in men.Gender differences in different types of mental illness are influenced by cultural backgrounds with people from West Africa differing with their East, central and Southern regions.

Contador Harrison