Depression in adolescents is the most prevalent mental health problem in Sub-Saharan Africa and a major cause of disability.
In South Africa, depression among adolescents is the leading cause of poor cognitive and social development, posing a huge mental health challenge, especially to mental health nurses, who are in daily contact with adolescents who are diagnosed with depressive disorders.
Dr Precious Chibuike Chukwuere, a postdoctoral candidate at the North-West University’s (NWU’s) School of Nursing, has recently developed and validated a conceptual framework for the psychosocial management of depression in adolescents in the North West Province.
His doctoral study revealed that the province has no available follow-up programmes for adolescents discharged after being diagnosed with depression.
“Therefore, there is a need for heads of health establishments to put measures in place for follow-up care for adolescents suffering from depression to speed up recovery. Adequate follow-up programmes will enable adolescents to feel connected to their different health care providers,” says Dr Chukwuere.
The results of his study showed that the implementation of the conceptual framework for the psychosocial management of depression in adolescents should include all relevant stakeholders involved in mental health, care treatment and rehabilitation services in the province.
Dr Chukwuere says there is also a need for mental health nurses to undergo professional development training and workshops where they will be exposed to the latest knowledge. This will enable them to provide quality health care services, especially for adolescents with depression.
“Exposing mental health nurses to the latest knowledge will also enhance the applicability of scientific research findings.
“There is also a need for the conceptual framework to be included in the curriculum of secondary schools to equip adolescents with the necessary knowledge on how to manage depression. This might help them or their friends with dealing with depression,” adds Dr Chukwuere.
“By following these recommendations we can improve the psychosocial management of depression in adolescents and provide them with effective coping skills.”
Dr Precious Chuekere.