Depression, Anxiety and Stress among Basic School Students in Northern Region of Ghana

Author(s): Peter Mintir Amadu*, Rejoice Enyonam Hoedoafia, Abdul-Rahman Abdul-Kadiri, Philomena Konadu, Vivian Kapio Abem, Barnabas Atangongo, Divine Davor

Introduction: Depression, anxiety, and stress are prevalent among basic school students in Northern Ghana, with the potential to affect learning outcomes/academic performance and well-being. Socioeconomic gaps, cultural stigmas, and limited mental health resources exacerbate the problem. Identifying regional risk factors is vital for crafting targeted interventions.

This research is to shed light on the critical issue of depression, anxiety, and stress among basic school students leading to a meaningful change in policies and practices. By fostering a mentally healthy and supportive environment, we can empower students to thrive academically, emotionally, and socially, ensuring a brighter future for them and the society they will shape.

Objectives: This study aims to delve deeply into the prevalence, of depression, anxiety, and stress among basic school students. By gaining a thorough understanding, we strive to inform the creation and execution of impactful support systems and policies to alleviate mental health burdens among young learners.

Methodology: Between February 2023 and April 2023, a cross-sectional study was carried out among basic school students in the Northern region of Ghana. The study utilized the short form of the Depression Anxiety Stress Scale (DASS-21) alongside sociodemographic characteristics. The DASS-21 is a 21-item questionnaire comprising three self-reporting scales aimed at assessing depression, anxiety, and stress symptoms.

Results: The prevalence of depression among the students was 64.5% (258), categorized as follows: 33.8% (135) experienced mild depression, 10.7% (43) had moderate depression, 12.0% (48) experienced severe depression, and 8% (32) had extremely severe depression. In terms of anxiety, the total prevalence was 74.6% (298), with 35.5% (142) experiencing mild anxiety, 14.8% (59) moderate anxiety, 15.2% (61) severe anxiety, and 9.0% (36) extremely severe anxiety. The overall stress level among the students was 76.2% (305), with 30.4% (121) experiencing mild stress, 19.4% (78) moderate stress, 14.8% (59) severe stress, and 11.6% (47) extremely severe stress. The prevalences of depression, anxiety, and stress were high with these significantly higher among females, whereas prevalences of depression were higher for Basic 6 and Junior High School (JHS) 3 students, anxiety higher among JHS 1 and Basic 6 students and stress was significantly higher among JHS 3 and Basic 6 students.

Conclusion: Depression, anxiety, and stress were very common, especially among girls. Depression was more common among Basic 6 and JHS 3 students, anxiety was higher among JHS 1 and Basic 6 students, and stress was particularly high among JHS 3 and Basic 6 students.

Addressing mental health challenges like depression, anxiety, and stress among basic school students in Northern Ghana demands concerted and a collaborative effort from schools, parents, policymakers, and society at large. Recognizing regional dynamics and implementing tailored interventions, we can mitigate the impact of depression, anxiety, and stress. Sustainable solutions are crucial for fostering improved mental well-being and academic success in this population.

Further studies are recommended to determine the factors leading to these mental health disorders among these upcoming generation.

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