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Personal and Perceived Depression Stigma among Arab Adolescents: Associations with Depression Severity and Personal Characteristics

      HIGHLIGHTS

      • This is the first study to shed light on how personal and perceived depression stigmas manifest among Arab adolescents.
      • The majority of the adolescents reported scores indicating moderate to high depression stigma.
      • Depression stigma was not significantly associated with depression severity, but with adolescent characteristics.
      • Findings may inform the design of policies and interventions to reduce both personal and perceived depression stigmas.

      ABSTRACT

      BACKGROUND

      In Arab communities, the selection, utilization, and attitudes towards mental health services are substantially affected by existing mental illness stigma. However, little is known about how the stigma of depression manifests among Arab adolescents, which makes it difficult to design, implement, and disseminate effective anti-stigma interventions for this vulnerable population. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to determine levels of depression stigma among Arab adolescents. The specific aims were to (1) describe the severity of personal and perceived depression stigma among Arab adolescents and its relationship to severity of depression, and (2) determine characteristics associated with severity of depression stigma among Arab adolescents.

      METHODS

      This study was conducted in Jordan, a Middle Eastern Arab country. A nationally representative, school-based survey was utilized. A total of 2349 Jordanian adolescents aged 12–17 completed and returned the survey packets, which included measures on individual characteristics, depression severity, and depression stigma.

      RESULTS

      The majority of the adolescents (88%) reported scores indicating moderate to high depression stigma. Adolescents reported higher rates of perceived stigma than personal stigma. Depression stigma was not significantly associated with severity of depression, but with adolescent's sex, age, region of residence, parents' education, and history of mental health problem.

      CONCLUSIONS

      This is the first Arab study to isolate the influence of adolescent depression and personal characteristics on personal and perceived depression stigmas, and highlight the presence of these distinctions early in adolescence. Such distinction can inform the design and implementation of policies and interventions to reduce both personal and perceived stigma. The study provides important recommendations on when, how, and why to utilize school settings for anti-depression stigma interventions.

      KEYWORDS

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