Youth in Action for Health Project: Association Between Mental Health and Exposure to Violence
Presentation given at APHA's 2020 VIRTUAL Annual Meeting and Expo.
Background: Adolescent exposure to violence is linked to physical and emotional stress, which has an effect on a variety of mental health outcomes. The Youth in Action project was developed to integrate public health inquiry in a high school’s Biomedical Academy program, by using a Youth Participatory Action Research (YPAR) approach with a health and social equity perspective.
Research Question: The aim of this study was to assess the association between exposure to violence at school and self-reported negative emotions of anxiety, stress, depression, and anger among participants of the Youth in Action project.
Methods: Baseline surveys were administered to 11th grade Biomedical Academy students at a low-income, ethnically diverse high school. Questions were adapted from the California Healthy Kids Survey including being a witness or victim of violent behaviors and negative emotions at school.
Results: Results from the 76 program participants who completed the survey showed 36% of students reported experiencing at least one act of violence at school in the past 12 months and between significant numbers of students report a negative emotion including anxiety: 42%, stress: 58%, depression: 39%, and anger: 36%. There was a significant association between experiencing a violent act at school and having negative emotions (p=0.033).
Conclusion: This study indicated exposure to violence in a high school setting is associated with a variety of mental health outcomes. It also highlights a need for supporting school anti-violence and mental health programs for the benefit of high school populations.
APHA's 2020 VIRTUAL Annual Meeting and Expo
Oates, Devin, Annette Aalborg, Hurjessica Virk, Jessica S. Schwind, Daeja Tillis, Salina Ramachhita, Amy Vang, Janis Ho, Valentina Kelly, Shannon Frisinger, Matthew Ristow.
"Youth in Action for Health Project: Association Between Mental Health and Exposure to Violence."
Biostatistics, Epidemiology, and Environmental Health Sciences Faculty Presentations.