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Children’s concepts of childhood and adolescent depression

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    Rights statement: This is the peer reviewed version of the following article: Georgakakou-Koutsonikou, N., Taylor, E. P. and Williams, J. M. (2018), Children's concepts of childhood and adolescent depression. Child Adolesc Ment Health. doi:10.1111/camh.12266, which has been published in final form at http://doi.org/10.1111/camh.1226. This article may be used for non-commercial purposes in accordance with Wiley Terms and Conditions for Self-Archiving.

    Accepted author manuscript, 716 KB, PDF document

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)19-28
Number of pages10
JournalChild and Adolescent Mental Health
Volume24
Issue number1
Early online date10 Mar 2018
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2019

Abstract

Background: Research on adolescent Mental Health Literacy (MHL) is rapidly increasing, however equivalent research in children is lacking. Exploring children’s mental health conceptualisations reveals how their knowledge develops and provides the evidence base for the development of mental health education for younger age groups.

Methods: 105 children aged 8-9 and 11-12 years were interviewed using a vignette methodology structured according to the model of illness representations, exploring: recognition, causes, consequences, timeline and curability of depression. Age, gender and experience differences were explored.

Results: Children were able to identify the existence of a psychological difficulty in a depressed peer, however, they struggled to categorise depression as a mental illness, or to label depression. Children referred to a variety of causal factors, primarily environmental and interpersonal rather than internal biological causes. Children considered depression to be curable within a short period of 1-2 months and anticipated negative outcomes if left untreated. Older children’s concepts were more sophisticated than younger children’s. Gender and experience were not associated with depression concepts in this age range.

Conclusion: Age trends in children’s mental health concepts are evident, in accordance with previous studies. Children from the age of 8-9 years demonstrate detailed concepts of depression. However, mental health educational interventions are needed to target specific gaps and misconceptions in children’s understanding.

    Research areas

  • Child development, depression, mental health, MENTAL-HEALTH LITERACY, YOUNG PEOPLES KNOWLEDGE, ILLNESS, BELIEFS, ANXIETY, HELP, PERCEPTIONS, PEERS

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