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Adolescents' voices: mental health, self-esteem, sense of coherence, family functioning and life attitudes in Swedish and Greek adolescents
Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Social Work. Umeå University, Faculty of Medicine, Department of Clinical Sciences, Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.
2006 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

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 functioning and cultural factors.

Objectives: This study investigates and compares the mental health of adolescents 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 selected 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, Antonovsky'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 information 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 Swedish 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 differences 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 Swedish boys had better self-esteem compared to their counterparts. Greek adolescents scored their families higher on family health competence.

With respect to attitudes about life issues, Greek youths reported more problems 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' attitudes 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.
Series
Studier i socialt arbete vid Umeå universitet : avhandlings- och skriftserie, ISSN 0283-300X ; 53
Keyword [en]
Adolescents, Mental Health, Self-esteem, Sense of Coherence, Family, Life Attitudes, and Crosscultural
National Category
Social Work
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-891ISBN: 91-7264-181-9 (print)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:umu-891DiVA: diva2:144918
Public defence
2006-11-03, Samvetet, Samhällsvetarhuset, Umeå universitet, Umeå, 09:15 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2006-10-11 Created: 2006-10-11 Last updated: 2017-03-19Bibliographically approved
List of papers
1. Self-reported mental health and sense of coherence among Swedish and Greek adolescents
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Self-reported mental health and sense of coherence among Swedish and Greek adolescents
2006 (English)In: Review of Clinical Pharmacology and Pharmacokinetics, ISSN 1011-6583, no 20, 1-14 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Athens: PHARMAKON-Press, 2006
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-5408 (URN)
Available from: 2006-10-11 Created: 2006-10-11 Last updated: 2011-03-15Bibliographically approved
2. Swedish and Greek adolescents´ perceptions of family functioning and mental health
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Swedish and Greek adolescents´ perceptions of family functioning and mental health
(English)Article in journal (Refereed) Submitted
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-5409 (URN)
Available from: 2006-10-11 Created: 2006-10-11 Last updated: 2010-05-28Bibliographically approved
3. Greek youths´ attitudes to social problems, fears, coping and future plans
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Greek youths´ attitudes to social problems, fears, coping and future plans
2006 (English)In: Review of Clinical Pharmacology and Pharmacokinetics, ISSN 1011-6583, Vol. 20, no 1, 22-30 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Athens: PHARMAKON-Press, 2006
National Category
Sociology
Research subject
Sociology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-5410 (URN)
Available from: 2006-10-11 Created: 2006-10-11 Last updated: 2011-06-22Bibliographically approved
4. Attitudes about life issues in Greek and Swedish adolescents
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Attitudes about life issues in Greek and Swedish adolescents
2006 (English)In: Social Work Journal of the Hellenic Association of Social Workers, no 83, 151-166 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-5411 (URN)
Available from: 2006-10-11 Created: 2006-10-11 Last updated: 2010-05-28Bibliographically approved

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