Adolescent psychopathology and psychological wellbeing: a network analysis approach

Transforming mental health for all

Background

The extent to which psychological wellbeing may play a preventive and therapeutic role in the development and maintenance of adolescent emotional disorders depends, in part, on the nature of the overlap between these two constructs. We estimated network analysis to examine the relationship between adolescent psychopathology (measured by depression and anxiety symptoms) and psychological wellbeing (measured by happiness, optimism, social support, perceived control, and gratitude).

Methods

This was a cross-sectional study with a large community sample of Kenyan adolescents (N = 2192, aged 13–18). Network analyses were conducted to examine the topology, stability, centrality, and bridge nodes of a network of psychopathology and psychological wellbeing measures.

Results

Two distinct community clusters emerged, one for psychopathology nodes and another for wellbeing nodes, suggesting that these are two distinct but connected concepts. Central and bridge nodes of the wellbeing and psychopathology network were identified. The most central nodes in the network were family provides emotional help and support and self-blame; the strongest negative edges between psychopathology and psychological wellbeing were depressed mood—I love life and irritability—I am a joyful person; the main bridge nodes were family helps me and I can talk to family about problems.

Conclusions

Our findings expand understanding of the relationship between psychopathology and wellbeing in an understudied population and are suggestive of how psychological wellbeing can inform psychopathological treatment and preventive efforts in low-income regions such as those in Sub Saharan Africa.

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