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Adolescents' mental health and emotional problems: a qualitative study in Switzerland

Lorraine Chok (Center for Primary Care and Public Health, Unisanté, Lausanne, Switzerland)
Joan-Carles Suris (Center for Primary Care and Public Health, Unisanté, Lausanne, Switzerland)
Yara Barrense-Dias (Center for Primary Care and Public Health, Unisanté, Lausanne, Switzerland)

Qualitative Research Journal

ISSN: 1443-9883

Article publication date: 14 October 2022

Issue publication date: 17 February 2023

391

Abstract

Purpose

Mental disorders are the main cause of morbidity among 10–19 year-olds and current research indicates that youth mental health problems are rising, especially with the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. This exploratory qualitative study aimed to gather the opinions of adolescents in Switzerland on the emotional and behavioral problems the adolescents may currently face.

Design/methodology/approach

The authors' study included 28 participants aged between 12 and 19 years-old. Four online focus groups (FGs) separated by gender and age were performed between March and April 2021, during the third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic in Switzerland.

Findings

The concept of mental health was very vague for the participants. School was reported as a major source of stressors and may have negative effects on participants' mental health. This distress has been amplified with the COVID-19 pandemic and the perceived instability of participants' future. Furthermore, participants reported that poor body image was a major issue threatening the mental health of adolescents, especially among females and on social media. Finally, participants considered that social relations, more particularly friendships, were one of the main protective factors for mental health, even if peer pressure was also considered as a stress factor. Given the fact that the concept of mental health was very abstract for the participants, increased levels of mental health literacy are needed.

Originality/value

This study collects adolescents' opinions on current emotional issues adolescents may face without restricting the domains discussed and considering the particular pandemic and post-pandemic periods.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

The authors thank the John Hopkins Coordinating Centre of the Global Early Adolescent Study that financed the study. This funding source designed the study protocol but had no role in its execution, analyses, interpretation of the data and decision to submit.

The authors also thank the participants for having taken part to the discussions.

Citation

Chok, L., Suris, J.-C. and Barrense-Dias, Y. (2023), "Adolescents' mental health and emotional problems: a qualitative study in Switzerland", Qualitative Research Journal, Vol. 23 No. 2, pp. 181-190. https://doi.org/10.1108/QRJ-08-2022-0115

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2022, Emerald Publishing Limited

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