MENTAL HEALTH AT SCHOOLS: BETWEEN SAFETY AND RISK
Keywords:mental health, risky behavior, school environment, youth.
The authors study the school environment and its impact on youth mental health. The authors also analyze different aspects of mental health, namely: lack of symptoms of mental disorders, mental or psychological well-being; the process of seeking and maintaining the balance. As the result of the discussion, the authors consider the youth mental health as a system of externalizing and internalizing disorders.
As a theoretical base, authors use the following theories: the problem-behavior theory (PBT) by R. Jessor, Erikson's theory of psychosocial development, and the conception of resilience by K. Ostaszewski. Though these theories, the authors empirically identified manifestations of risky behavior in school. The main forms of risky behaviour are violence and fights in or near the school, cyberbullying at school, skipping classes.
The empirical basis of the study includes the results obtained from the Ukrainian-Polish survey under the title "Mental Health and Risky Behaviour of Adolescents" conducted in October – December 2016 among adolescents from Ukraine and Poland. It was based on the methodology of an authoritative study on adolescents’ mental health in Poland that is more commonly known as the Mokotow Study and has been regularly conducted since the late 1980s.
In the research, a random stratified-cluster selection of samples of nine grade middle school students were used. The cluster was a grade, stratification designated by the type of living area: the large city (regional center) – Lviv, the average city – Drohobych, the villages of Drohobych district. In Ukraine, 2001 pupils were surveyed, of whom 1246 were from Lviv (69%), 307 from Drohobych (17%) and 288 from villages of Drohobych district (14%). In the Ukrainian sample, the percentage of girls was 48,2% and boys – 51,8%.
The results of logistic regression analysis show that the school is among the crucial factors that influence all manifestations of the youth risky behaviour. The authors argue that school and family are protective factors in mental health, and peers are a risk factor.
Correlation analysis of the relationship between school attachment and mental health was done. The result shows the existence of a significant correlation between the school environment and the externalizing and internalizing disorders of student youth. Manifestations of externalizing disorders are behaviour manifestations associated with aggression, violence, violation of social behaviour, criminal behaviour, use of psychoactive substances. The positive school environment reduces the manifestations of externalizing disorders. As in the previous case, a positive school environment reduces the manifestations of internalizing disorders such as emotional disorders, especially depression, drug addiction, excessive stress, and so on.
The research of students was designed to develop the prevention of youth risk behaviour. The results of the study show the presence of risk factors, both outside and inside the school. The evidence-based prevention work at school based on a system of risk and protective factors could have a positive effect. In the authors' opinion, measures involving work with teachers, students, and their parents will be useful in reducing the manifestations of risky behaviour of student youth. It is essential to form a model of positive behaviour through the formation of the key life and social competencies.
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