Internalizing Symptoms and Social Support Among Kenyan Adolescents: A Network Analysis

Transforming mental health for all

Internalizing symptoms are common and debilitating among adolescents. Network analysis, which models associations among psychopathology, risk factors, and protective factors, may help clarify relationships between social support and internalizing symptoms, including within understudied cultural groups. We performed network analyses of 1) depressive and anxiety symptoms, 2) social support, and 3) all three measures among 658 Kenyan adolescents. In the internalizing symptoms network, worry, nervousness, and feeling down exhibited the highest expected influence. In the social support network, friends showed the greatest expected influence. In the full network, social support from family, friends, and significant others were all negatively associated with internalizing symptoms, and feeling down was a particularly important bridge node between internalizing symptoms and social support. Our findings suggest that feeling down is closely linked to social support in this sample of Kenyan adolescents. The study illustrates the potential of network analysis to aid understanding of psychopathology cross-culturally.

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