Adolescents´ voices: Mental health, self-esteem, sense of coherence, family functioning and life attitudes in Swedish and Greek Adolescents
2006 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Background: Several factors have been identified as related to mental health in adolescence, such as competences, behavioural/emotional problems, self-esteem, and sense of coherence. Studies also emphasise the importance of family func-tioning and cultural factors.
Objectives: This study investigates and compares the mental health of adoles-cents in relation to family functioning and socio-cultural variables in Sweden and Greece. Furthermore, Swedish and Greek adolescents’ attitudes about life issues are studied. For Greek youths, mental health and gender variations in attitudes were studied as well.
Populations and Methods: The study included 583 Swedish and 238 Greek school-aged adolescents aged 13 through 18 years. The Swedish sample was recruited from students at a Junior High and a High School in the town of Lycksele close to the University town of Umeå and the Greek sample was se-lected from three High schools and three Lyceums in Patras. The two samples were selected to represent the socio-demographic strata in the study areas.
Achenbach’s Youth Self Report (YSR), Rosenberg’s Self-Esteem, An-tonovsky’s Sense of Coherence (SOC), and Beavers (SFI) scales were used. Out of the large sample, adolescents who reported either high or low on Achenbach’s Youth Self Report–47 Greeks and 47 Swedes–were selected for semi-structured interviews.
An interview guide with semi-structured questions was created to gather in-formation about life attitudes. The questions addressed a broad spectrum of everyday life issues to understand how youths orient themselves to life–the central themes of an adolescent life and the basic codes of behaviour related to mental health, family, and culture.
Results and discussion: Results revealed significant differences and some simi-larities between Swedish and Greek adolescents. According to YSR, the Swed-ish adolescents had fewer mental health problems than the Greek adolescents. Although this difference was most evident for internalized problems, it was also evident for externalized problems. These differences were seen for both sexes in most problem areas identified by YSR. In both countries, girls had higher prob-lem scores than boys. Age group comparisons followed the same national differ-ences mostly obvious for the two oldest age groups. As for sense of coherence, all of the Greek groups had higher scores. For self-esteem, no differences were found in the comparison between total group scoring, but Greek girls and Swed-ish boys had better self-esteem compared to their counterparts. Greek adoles-cents scored their families higher on family health competence.
With respect to attitudes about life issues, Greek youths reported more prob-lems related to self, more fears of social dangers, losses, and illness. In addition, they turned more often to their family for support during difficult times. More Greek youths believed in God than their Swedish counterparts. The two groups identified similar family problems. The Swedes reported more fear about their future and tended to trust public authorities more during times of difficulty. Greek adolescents revealed social concerns, fears about the future and social dangers, and using own coping and family support to face these issues. Mental-health and gender patterns influenced some attitudes. Greek adolescents’ atti-tudes about education, and messages sent to their parents are also presented. Both groups’ attitudes about faith and homosexuality are shown.
They both emphasised the importance of social and career position. Swedes, however, more often expressed a desire to have a family within five years. We recommend that counselling be offered in schools to provide students with life skills and to improve communication with their parents. This support should help parents and children face relational and behavioural issues of children. In addition, we recommend educational support be provided to Greek youths.
Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Umeå: Socialt arbete , 2006. , 148 p.
Studier i socialt arbete vid Umeå universitet : avhandlings- och skriftserie, ISSN 0283-300X ; 53
Adolescents, Mental Health, Self-esteem, Sense of Coherence, Family, Life Attitudes, and Crosscultural
IdentifiersURN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-891ISBN: 91-7264-181-9OAI: oai:DiVA.org:umu-891DiVA: diva2:144918
2006-11-03, Samvetet, Samhällsvetarhuset, Umeå universitet, Umeå, 09:15 (English)
Tsiantis, John, Professor
Nygren, Lennart, ProfessorHägglöf, Bruno, Professor
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