Violence exposure, self-reported mental health concerns and use of alcohol and drugs for coping among youth in the slums of Kampala, Uganda


Health Promotion and Physical Education

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This study aimed to (a) compute the prevalence of violence exposure types, polyvictimization, and self-reported depression, anxiety, and using substances to cope among youth ages 12–18 years living on the streets or in the slums of Kampala, Uganda, (b) examine the independent associations among orphan status, violence exposure types, and self-reported mental health concerns, and (c) explore the association between polyvictimization and mental health concerns. Data are from a 2014 cross-sectional survey of service-seeking youth ages 12–18 years (N = 1134) in Kampala, Uganda. Violence exposure types explored in this study were: witnessing family physical violence, direct physical abuse by a parent, any rape history, and physical dating violence. We used descriptive statistics and multivariable logistic regression to test study objectives. Over half of the sample (60.5%) reported experiencing at least one type of violence exposure; many youth endorsed self-reported depression (57.8%), anxiety (76.8%), and substance use to cope (37.0%). Exposure to violence was associated with higher odds for self-reported depression, anxiety, and using substances to cope. These findings underscore the urgent need to implement evidence-based interventions among this young, underserved population and their families to prevent violence, improve mental health outcomes, and promote resilience.

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International Journal of Mental Health

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