Positive Childhood Experiences Can Boost Mental Health and Reduce Depression and Anxiety in Teens

The following is excerpted from an online article posted by MedicalXpress.

There is an urgent need to “bring back the village” post-pandemic to support teens and foster a sense of community belonging for young people, says a Simon Fraser University researcher.

A new study led by Hasina Samji, a professor in the Faculty of Health Sciences, explored the role of modifiable community- and societal-level factors in youth mental health and well-being.

The study drew from Samji’s 2022 Youth Development Instrument survey of more than 8,800 Grade 11 students in British Columbia schools. Data was collected from January to March 2022 during the fifth wave of the pandemic, a time that included the highest number of daily COVID-19 case counts.

Students were asked to note their number of positive and adverse experiences (up to age 18), the degree to which they experienced depression and anxiety symptoms, and to rank their mental well-being and life satisfaction.

According to Samji, having more positive childhood experiences was associated with lower levels of depression and anxiety, and better life satisfaction and mental health. Conversely, people with a higher number of adverse childhood experiences had more symptoms of depression and anxiety, and poorer life satisfaction and mental health.

Adults with four or more adverse childhood experiences are four times more likely to experience depression and low life satisfaction, three times more likely to experience anxiety and are 30 times more likely at attempt suicide than people with no adverse childhood experiences.

Importantly, positive childhood experiences were associated with better mental health and well-being even for youth who experienced adverse childhood experiences. Positive childhood experiences include being supported by friends, feeling that their family stands by them during difficult times, feeling a sense of belonging to their community and being safe and protected by an adult in their home.

The study was published in the journal Child Abuse & Neglect.

Source: MedicalXpress

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[reposted by] Jim Liebelt

Jim is Senior Writer, Editor and Researcher for HomeWord. Jim has 40 years of experience as a youth and family ministry specialist, having served over the years as a pastor, author, consultant, mentor, trainer, college instructor, and speaker. Jim’s HomeWord culture blog also appears on Crosswalk.com and Religiontoday.com. Jim and his wife Jenny live in Quincy, MA.

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