Adolescent Mental Health in a Mexican Border City: Experience, Cultural Meaning, and Social Context

Friday, 20 July 2018: 08:54
Oral Presentation
Olga OLIVAS HERNANDEZ, University of California, San Diego, Mexico
Janis H. JENKINS, University of California, San Diego, USA
This paper is based on an ethnographic study of adolescent mental health in a high school (ages 14-17) in Tijuana, B.C., México. A focal area of the study is the investigation of how the sociocultural context shapes adolescents’ experience of anxiety and depression and how adolescents develop strategies to manage these experiences. The aims also include examination of cultural perceptions of emotional wellbeing and help-seeking from multiple perspectives, including teachers and parents. For the past two years, we have conducted focus groups and semi structured interviews, including individual students (N=35 students). The interviews included assessments of depression (PHQ-9 modified for teens) and anxiety (GAD-7). The results of the study highlight the relevance of an interdisciplinary approach of Social Science research to understand the subjective experience, cultural meaning, and the social, cultural, economic and political contexts of contemporary life for adolescents in the border region of Mexico and the United States. Daily life situations faced by those adolescents, such as family interactions, peer relations, and neighborhood characteristics in terms of security and violence, are key elements that we discuss in relation to adolescent mental health.