Home country: Ghana
Year of enrolment: 2013
Graduation date: December 2015
Supervisor: Dr Somhlaba Nceba
Dissertation title: An exploration of aspects of mental health in school-going adolescents in Ghana
In Ghana, research that focusses on the importance of psychological strengths for adolescent mental health is virtually non-existent. As a result, the pathways to mental health among Ghanaian adolescents have remained unknown. The present study aimed to test a structural model demonstrating the possible pathways to psychological well-being and psychological distress among a sample of school-going adolescents from the Northern region of Ghana. In addition, gender differences in the hypothesised model were also investigated. A secondary aim of the study was to qualitatively explore the adolescents’ experiences of hope, perceptions of support and life satisfaction as well as the resistant resources for coping. A mixed-method, cross-sectional design, was used to gather quantitative and qualitative data on aspects of mental health. Pertaining to the quantitative data, questionnaires were used to gather information on adolescents’ experience of hope, perceived social support, life satisfaction and mental health. For the qualitative data, follow-up interviews with selected school-going adolescents were used to solicit in-depth information on how hope, perceptions of support and life satisfaction were engendered. The interviews were also used to delve into the other resources that adolescents capitalised on to manage stressors they encountered. A modified version of a multi-stage cluster sampling was used to randomly select 717 participants from seven schools in the Northern region of Ghana. Using purposive sampling, 18 participants were selected from six of the schools that participated in the quantitative phase of the study. The quantitative data were analysed using structural equation modelling techniques. The qualitative data were analysed using thematic analyses. The results showed that the hypothesised model fit the observed data. Additionally, the model explained psychological well-being, but not psychological distress. Significant positive relationships were found between perceived social support and psychological well-being, as well as between life satisfaction and psychological well-being. There were also direct relationships between hope and life satisfaction, perceived social support and life satisfaction, and between perceived social support and hope. The following hypothesised mediated relationships were significant: hope and psychological well-being via life satisfaction; perceived social support and psychological well-being via life satisfaction; and perceived social support and life satisfaction via hope. Moreover, there were also some gender differences in the hypothesised relationships. Qualitative data on interpretations of hope, perceptions of support and life satisfaction yielded noteworthy results. Firstly, adolescents ascribed hopefulness to confidence in the future, this being engendered through interactions with significant others in their network systems. Secondly, emotional support from parents and instrumental support received from friends emerged as important markers of perceived support from significant others. Thirdly, life satisfaction was tied to the fulfilment of the needs and the maintenance of positive relations with peers. Fourthly, resistant resources for coping involved engagement with the adolescents’ network systems and non-governmental organisations to manage academic and financial constraints. Given that even in low-resource contexts, the pathways to psychological well-being comprised psychological strengths such as hope, perceived social support and life satisfaction, mental health promotion programmes should be aimed at solidifying these strengths to promote adolescents’ overall well-being.
Click here to download the full dissertation: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/97898