Self-esteem and mental health in adolescents – level and stability during a school year
Aim: Adolescence represent an important period for positive mental health development. The aim of the present paper was to investigate gender differences as well as the level, stability and predictive role of mental health (symptoms of depression/anxiety and mental well-being) and self-esteem in adolescents during a school year.
Methods: The study sample consisted of a cohort of 351 students aged 15–21 years in Mid-Norway. In a survey administrated at the beginning and end of the 2016/2017 school year, mental well-being was assessed with Warwick-Edinburgh Mental Well-Being Scale, depression/anxiety with Hopkins Symptom Checklist and self-esteem with the Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale. Two models were tested for prediction; self-esteem on mental health (vulnerability model) and mental health on self-esteem (scar model).
Results: Girls reported significantly higher depression/anxiety than boys and showed a slightly significant increase in depression/anxiety, stress and self-esteem during the two assessments. Boys scored significantly higher on mental well-being and self-esteem and reported stable mental health during the school year. Selfesteem significantly predicted depression/anxiety and mental well-being. Mental well-being and depression/ anxiety also significantly predicted self-esteem.
Conclusion: The results suggest that self-esteem and mental health are reciprocally associated. The results underline the gender differences in overall mental health in adolescents and thus the potential importance of acknowledging gender when working on universal strategies for positive mental health development.
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