Individual and School Risk and Protective Factors Associated with Depression and Self Esteem in Rural Youths
Methods: The participants in this study included a sample of 4,321 (3,405 after list-wise deletion) racially and ethnically diverse youth (26.4% Native American, 25.9% White, 24.2% African American, 11.9% Hispanic/Latino, and 9.5% Mixed) from 28 schools. After obtaining parental consent, the School Success Profile-Plus was administered to participants electronically at their respective schools. A binary logistic regression model was created for each dependent variable.
Results: Overall, results reveal that 30.1% of rural youth in the sample reported high levels of depression while 44.1% reported low self-esteem. Significant risk factors associated with depression include being female, receipt of free or reduced price lunch, parent-child conflict, negative peer relationships, friends’ negative behavior, and discrimination experiences, while protective factors include school satisfaction and parent support. Significant risk factors for low self-esteem include being female, parent child-conflict, and negative peer relationships, while school satisfaction was a protective factor. A number of interesting interaction effects emerged. For example, student discrimination experiences moderated the impact of teacher turnover on depression.
Conclusion and Implications: There was a high prevalence of depression and low self esteem in this sample and the current research highlights the many risk and protective factors that influence these mental health issues. Results highlight the significant negative impact that family problems and negative social interactions, can have on adolescent mental health, thereby identifying areas for intervention. Although risk factors outweigh protective factors, it is important to identify and build upon the strengths of this unique and vulnerable population.