2005 issue 1

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Volume 14, issue 1

Original article

Mental health problems in the population of high school students in Warsaw

CZESŁAW J. CZABAŁA1, CELINA BRYKCZYŃSKA1, KRZYSZTOF BOBROWSKI1, KRZYSZTOF OSTASZEWSKI1
1. Zakładu Psychologii i Promocji Zdrowia Psychicznego Instytut Psychiatrii i Neurologii w Warszawie
Postępy Psychiatrii i Neurologii 2005; 14 (1): 1-9
Keywords: mental health, adolescents, risk factors
Abstract

Objectives. In various studies symptoms and behaviours suggesting mental health problems in adolescents have been reported. Anxiety, depressive symptoms, alcohol abuse and experimenting with drugs are mostfrequently listed. This study was aimed at mental health assessment in early adolescence (i.e. in first grade students of high school).

Methods. Participants were Warsaw high school students (N=1128) from randomly selected 40 first grades of state secondary schools and 7 first grades of private high schools in the City area. A Canadian questionnaire developed in the Toronto Centre for Addiction and Mental Health to monitor adolescents' mental health was adapted by the authors and used in the study.

Results. About 43% of the participants reported some symptoms of mental health problems. A majority of them manifested an increased level of distress as assessed by the GHQ-12 scale. Adolescents with an increased distress level (GHQ-12) who at the same time rated their mental health as poorfor at least 14 days in the past month (about 9% ofsubjects) can be regarded as a group at a very high riskfor mental disorders. Mental health in about 11-13% of the high school students in our research is at a serious risk. Especially numerous group of the high school students reported experiencing depressive symptoms: sadness, loneliness, depressed mood, suicidal thoughts. Methods of mental health promotion and prevention of mental health disorders as well as psychological counselling may become important instruments for alleviating psychological distress and reducing its negative consequences to mental health and development of children and adolescents.

Conclusions. About 43% of high school first graders in the City of Warsaw experience various symptoms ofpsychological malaise that constitute a riskfor their mental health. The group at a particular high riskfor mental disorders was as numerous as about 11-13% of the population studied.