Children and young people’s conceptualisations of depression: A systematic review and narrative meta-synthesis

Niki Georgakakou-Koutsonikou, Joanne Williams

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Background: There is an increasing research interest in conceptualisations of mental illness, examined in association with help seeking, stigma and treatment preferences. A recent focus on young people’s concepts has been identified, with depression being one of the most examined conditions.
Methods: The purpose of this systematic review is to synthesise evidence on children and adolescents’ conceptualisations of depression, adopting the model of illness representations. The review further aims to examine developmental trends, gender differences and the role of experience. A systematic review and narrative meta-synthesis was conducted, reviewing 36 studies identified through a systematic search of six databases in March 2016.
Results: 36 quantitative and qualitative studies were included. Half of the young people are able to recognise depression and recognition increases when symptoms are more severe (e.g. suicidality). Young people are able to name a variety of causes for depression. Mental health professionals are considered the appropriate source of help by half of the young people, followed by family and peers. However, stigma constitutes a major barrier to help-seeking. There are developmental trends and gender differences in young people’s conceptualisation of depression, while experience with depression is associated with a broader conceptualisation.
Conclusions: Young people’s concepts of depression resemble aspects of adult conceptualisations, however are sometimes incomplete. Further research on younger children and clinical populations is needed. Research on young people’s conceptualisations informs both clinical practice and mental health literacy interventions.

Original languageEnglish
JournalChild: Care, Health and Development
Early online date15 Jan 2017
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 15 Jan 2017

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