Assessment of mental health problems among adolescents in Sri Lanka: Findings from the cross‐sectional Global School‐based Health Survey

Gajarishiyan Rasalingam, Arrosan Rajalingam, Miyuru Chandradasa, Mintu Nath*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background and Aims
Mental health condition among adolescents is a leading cause of health‐related disability in Sri Lanka. The study aims to estimate the prevalence and evaluate the associated risk factors in three major mental health domains—loneliness, anxiety and suicidal ideation—among Sri Lankan adolescents.

We conducted a secondary analysis of cross‐sectional data of 3262 adolescents from the Global School‐based Health Survey (GSHS) conducted by the WHO in 2016. We modeled the binary outcome variables using multivariable logistic regression models with exposures representing demography, food habits, personal hygiene, behavior, substance abuse, parental and social engagement of the respondents.

We estimated the prevalence of loneliness, anxiety and suicidal ideation as 30.8% (95% CI: 29.3, 32.5), 20.2% (95% CI: 18.8, 21.6) and 3.7% (95% CI: 3.1, 4.4), respectively, and the overall prevalence as 40.3% (95% CI: 38.6, 42.0). Mental health problems were more prevalent among females than males. Engagement with parents and close friends, adequate nutritional intake and physically active lifestyles reduced the risk of common mental health problems. Exposure variables like food insecurity, truancy, second‐hand smoking, physical fight, and being bullied increased adolescents’ risk of reported psychological problems.

We conclude that the prevalence of mental health problems in the Sri Lankan adolescent population was higher than the global average. Results suggest that future policy decisions to mitigate mental health problems among Sri Lankan adolescents should incorporate an integrated approach involving the individual, family and community to promote positive home and school environments combined with an active and healthy lifestyle.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere886
Number of pages9
JournalHealth Science Reports
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 17 Oct 2022


  • anxiety
  • suicidal ideation
  • Global School‐based Student Health Survey
  • loneliness
  • mental health adolescents


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