2005 issue 4


Volume 14, issue 4

Original article

Problem behaviors as a dimension of mental health assessment in adolescents

1. Zakład Psychologii i Promocji Zdrowia Psychicznego Instytutu Psychiatrii i Neurologii w Warszawie
Postępy Psychiatrii i Neurologii 2005; 14 (4): 277-284
Keywords: mental health, problem behaviors, adolescents


Objectives. An assessment of health status in adolescence includes, among other variables, also problem behaviours that may involve either direct or potential mental health risk. In the study two categories were introduced in the mental health assessment, defined as externalization (problem behaviours) and internalization (emotional disturbances) indicators. Thefirst aim of the study was to estimate problem behaviours prevalence among students beginning secondary school, while the second objective was to analyze relationships between internalization and externalization indicators.

Methods. Participants in the study were first grade students (N= 1123) of secondary schools in the City of Warsaw area. They responded to a Polish adaptation of a self-report Canadian questionnaire monitoring adolescents ' mental health. Thefollowing indicators of problem behaviours were used: getting drunk, problems due to alcohol drinking, drug use, problems caused by drug use, violence, law-breaking. The following internalization indicators were analyzed: depressive symptoms (as measured by the CES-D scale), psychological distress (the GHQ-12 questionnaire by Goldberg), self-rated poor mental health, suicidal thoughts.

Results. The presence of at least one of the problem behaviors was reported by a half of the sample (52%), more often by boys (59.9%). A high percent of those manifesting problem behaviours were characterized by a higher intensity of experienced psychological stress, more severe depressive symptoms and lower self-rated psychological wellbeing. Those who reported symptoms ofpoor mental health together with two or more problem behaviours constituted 14.9% of the sample.

Conclusions. The group at risk for mental health constituted about a third of the sample studied, irrespective of gender.

Address for correspondence:
Mgr Krzysztof Bobrowski, Pracownia ,,Pro-M" Zakładu Psychologii i Promocji Zdrowia Psychicznego Instytutu Psychiatrii i Neurologii, ul. Sobieskiego 9, 02-957 Warszawa, e-mail: kbob@ipin.edu.pl