Scholarly article on topic 'The Effect of Teaching Coping Strategies on the Mental Health of 13-17 Male Adolescents Living in Boarding Houses of Tehran'

The Effect of Teaching Coping Strategies on the Mental Health of 13-17 Male Adolescents Living in Boarding Houses of Tehran Academic research paper on "Psychology"

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Abstract of research paper on Psychology, author of scientific article — Maryam Sharifi, Maede Kaveh

Abstract The aim of this study is to investigate the effect of teaching coping strategies on the mental health of male adolescents of 13-17 years old, living in boarding houses. The sample group was chosen randomly and mental health questionnaire (GHQ) was administered to both groups as pre-test. After scoring the questionnaires, those with lower mental health were chosen and divided randomly into control and experimental groups. 10 sessions were allocated to teaching coping strategies. Finally, post-test was administered to both groups. T-test was used to analyze the data and findings showed that teaching coping strategies to adolescents was effective on enhancing their mental health. Moreover, this study showed that teaching coping strategies to adolescents reduced their depression and anxiety and enhanced their social functions.

Academic research paper on topic "The Effect of Teaching Coping Strategies on the Mental Health of 13-17 Male Adolescents Living in Boarding Houses of Tehran"

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Social and Behavioral Sciences

Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences 84 (2013) 514 - 519 —

3rd World Conference on Psychology, Counselling and Guidance (WCPCG-2012)

The Effect of Teaching Coping Strategies on the Mental Health of 13-17 Male Adolescents Living in Boarding Houses of Tehran

Maryam Sharifi a 1*, Maede Kaveh a

_aIslamic Azad University, Bonab Branch,Bonab,55517-85169,Azarbayjan Sharghi,Iran_

Abstract

The aim of this study is to investigate the effect of teaching coping strategies on the mental health of male adolescents of 13-17 years old, living in boarding houses. The sample group was chosen randomly and mental health questionnaire (GHQ) was administered to both groups as pre-test. After scoring the questionnaires, those with lower mental health were chosen and divided randomly into control and experimental groups. 10 sessions were allocated to teaching coping strategies. Finally, post-test was administered to both groups. T-test was used to analyze the data and findings showed that teaching coping strategies to adolescents was effective on enhancing their mental health. Moreover, this study showed that teaching coping strategies to adolescents reduced their depression and anxiety and enhanced their social functions.

© 2013 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Ltd.

Selectionand peer-reviewunderresponsibility of Prof.Dr.HuseyinUzunboylu& Dr.MukaddesDemirok,NearEastUniversity, Cyprus Keywords: Coping Strategies, Adolecsence, Mental health, Boarding houses.

1. Introduction

Human beings are constantly exposed to different types of mental pressures in their daily lives. So, considering this point that experiencing stress (mental pressure) is one of the inseparable parts of human life, teaching all the people in society with the aim of reducing or even preventing stress, seems necessary (Mikenbam, 1998). Teaching is considered to be the major primitive method of preventing and to this end, mental health experts are required to cooperate with other groups of any society.

Adolescence is the most important and problematic phase of life. It is a unique procedure and includes a critical period of growth and development that creates great physiological, physical, and mental changes and this in turn, disturbs the physical and mental order of the adolescents. They are physically growing, emotionally immature, and socially and culturally very fragile and affected. Finally, they have very limited experiences.

Lack of acquaintance with mental changes of this period may lead to family and social controversies, moral aberrations, addiction, robbery, and all types of corruptions in adolescents (Milanifar, 2004). Stress management programs should consider the major role of emotional and cognitive factors in determining the stressful factors and the nature of reconciling responses. Individual appraisal processes of the importance of stressful factors, the probability of their occurrence in the future, and the existing coping resources to reconcile with them have great effect on emotional responses and choosing coping strategies (Lazarus & Folkman, 1984, cited in Mikenbam, 1998).

Corresponding author name: * Maryam Sharifi. Tel.: +989144208007 E-mail address: msharifi.78@gmail.com

1877-0428 © 2013 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Ltd.

Selection and peer-review under responsibility of Prof. Dr. Huseyin Uzunboylu & Dr. Mukaddes Demirok, Near East University, Cyprus doi:10.1016/j.sbspro.2013.06.595

According to Felsten (1998), coping strategies are one of the major elements of mental health. The way adolescents percept and cope with these various changes has significant relationship with their mental health, so; Raff et al., cited in Gesten, 1988, state that most of the educational failures, aggressiveness, intense behavioural and emotional derangements, and social isolation of adolescents are due to unsuccessful coping with daily problems and positive interaction failures. So, it seems necessary to investigate the effect of teaching coping strategies on the mental health of adolescents. Considering these issues, losing parents as a mental and social stress-causing factor, especially when it occurs during childhood, will leave negative and harmful effects on the rest of their lives (Dadsetan, 2004). So, paying attention to coping strategies, coping resources and skills and mental health of those adolescents that for any reason are deprived of family support resources, seems important and necessary.

Since adolescents develop feeble imaginations and pessimistic perceptions about themselves after experiencing any failure against tensions and this in turn decreases the ability to cope with the future problems, a defective loop is produced that jeopardizes their mental health. So, considering stress-causing incidents in all phases of life, especially in the lives of the adolescents living in boarding houses and the important role of coping strategies in decreasing these stressors and improving their mental health, the important issue that is considered in the present study is investigating the effect of teaching coping strategies on the mental health of adolescents that were deprived of having an appropriate behavioural model because of losing parents and lack of family resources; furthermore, this study examined the effect of teaching coping strategies on reducing both somatic symptoms and anxiety of adolescents as well as enhancing their social functions. Finally, the study aims at investigating the effect of teaching coping strategies on reducing depression among adolescents.

2. Methodology

2.1. Participants

The population of this study was all the 13-17 years old adolescents that were living in the boarding houses of Tehran. A sample of 30 adolescents was selected using simple random sampling method. The sample group was chosen randomly and mental health questionnaire (GHQ) was administered to both groups as pre-test. After scoring the questionnaires, those with lower mental health were chosen and divided randomly into control and experimental groups

2.2. Instrumentation

General Health Questionnaire (GHQ): the aim of this questionnaire is not only to achieve a special diagnosis of mental illnesses hierarchy but also to create a differentiation between mental illnesses and health. This questionnaire includes 28 multiple choice items and has the advantage of being designed for all the people in the society. As an instrument, it can determine the possibility of the existence of mental disorders. It has four sub-scales: somatic symptoms, anxiety/insomnia, social dysfunction, and severe depression. Collecting all the scores, a total score will be acquired. The existence of four subscales has been proven by statistical analysis of the answers (operant analysis). The first sub-scale includes some items about the persons' feelings about their health status and their feeling of fatigue and weariness. This sub-scale assesses the sensory receptions of body that are always associated with emotional arousals (items 1-7). The second sub-scale includes the items regarding anxiety and insomnia (items 8-14). The third subscale assesses the ability of the people in coping with occupational and daily life issues and reveals their feelings about how to deal with the routine situations of life (items 15-21). Finally, the fourth sub-scale includes the items that are associated with severe depression and implies the person's tendency to commit suicide (items 22-28).

2.3. Procedure

To accomplish the purpose of the study, the pre-test was administered to all the participants then the qualified subjects were divided randomly into control and experimental groups. Teaching sessions were determined in

advance and ten sessions (each session lasted for 90 minutes) were hold for experimental groups. In these sessions, the adolescents became familiar with different concepts such as coping (emotional and avoidance), how to express feeling, self-controlling, time management, etc. Finally, the questionnaire was administered to both groups.

Total score of each person was calculated by adding the scores of four sub-scales. In the instructions, the participants were asked to put a circle around the answers that they thought that conform to their status more than others. The scoring system allocates 1, 2, or 3 to any given answer from right to left. Each participant's score was calculated in each sub scale separately and was written under the paper. After adding the scores of all four scales, the total score was obtained, The scores from 14 to 21 show the seriousness of the participants' status in the so-called factor. Table 1 shows the correlation between the four sub-scales and the total scale.

Tablel. The Correlation between Four Sub-Scales and the Total Scale

B Scale C Scale D Scale Total Scale

A Scale 58% 52% 33% 79%

B Scale - 57% 61% 90%

C Scale - - 44% 75%

D Scale - - - 62%

Calhoun et al. (2002) reported the test-retest reliability coefficient of this questionnaire as 86%. In a study conducted by Hooman, namely, "the standardization and normalizing of general health questionnaire" the concurrent validity of the questionnaire (GHQ) was calculated with SCL-90-R and the correlation coefficient values of two variables among 70 participants' scores of the somatic symptoms scales (GHQ), and physical complaints(SCL-90-R) was 0.65, for anxiety/insomnia and physical complaints (SCL-90-R),it was 0.69, for the severe depression of GHQ scale and depression (SCL-90-R) was 0.71 and for total scores of so-called two scales, was 0.82 (1999).

2.4. Data analysis

To address the previously mentioned research questions, the descriptive statistical analysis of Mean, Standard deviation, and Variance were run as well as an independent T-test.

3. Findings

The participants of this study were 30 male adolescents. Mean of both experimental and control groups' pretest scores in mental health was 32.2 and 36.6 and the standard deviations were 7.16 and 8.39. To study the relationship between teaching coping strategies and mental health, variance and the parametric T-test were used that are presented in tables, 2, 3, ..., and 7.

Table 2. The Descriptive Indexes of Experimental and Control Groups' Pre-Test Scores in Mental Health

Groups Number Least Most Mean Standard deviation Variance

Control 15 24 48 35.6 8.39 70.54

Experimental 15 26 48 32.2 7.15 51.17

As table 2 shows, mean of the control group is a little more than that of the experimental group.

Table 3. The Descriptive Indexes of Experimental and Control Groups' Post-Test Scores in Mental Health

Groups Number Least Most Mean Standard deviation Variance

Control 15 24 46 35.53 7.008 49.12

Experimental 15 4 27 19.2 5.84 34.17

As table 3 shows, mean of the experimental group is less than that of the control group.

Table4. The Descriptive Indexes of Experimental and Control Groups' Pre-Test Scores in Somatic Symptoms

Groups Number Least Most Mean Standard deviation Variance

Control 15 3 18 68.26 4.26 18.20

Experimental 15 5 12 8.2 2.42 5.88

As table 4 shows, mean of the control group is a little more than that of the experimental group.

Table5. The Descriptive Indexes of Experimental and Control Groups' Post-Test Scores in Somatic Symptoms

Groups Number Least Most Mean Standard deviation Variance

Control 15 2 18 8.733 4.008 16.06

Experimental 15 1 10 4.933 2.68 7.20

As table 5 shows, mean of the experimental group is less than that of the control group.

Table6. The Comparison between Experimental and Control Groups Mean of Mental Health Scores Variance Homogeneity Test Sig. (p) T-observed DF Sig.(p) Mean difference

0.87 0.35 5.30 28 0.001 12.93

P is significant at the level of >0.05

As table 6 shows, t-observed is more than t-critical (5.30>2.46), so there is significant difference between control and experimental groups in terms of mental health.

Table7. The Comparison between Experimental and Control Groups Mean of Somatic Symptom Scores Variance Homogeneity Test Sig. (p) T-observed DF Sig.(p) Mean difference

1.73 0.19 3.26 28 0.002 3.73

P is significant at the level of >0.05

As table 7 shows, t-observed is more than t-critical (3.26>2.46), so there is significant difference between control and experimental groups in terms of somatic symptoms.

4. Discussion

In general, this quasi-experimental study investigated the effect of teaching coping strategies on enhancing the mental health of adolescents. The main hypothesis of this study was: teaching coping strategies is effective on the mental health of adolescents that was confirmed by the post-test. It means that teaching coping strategies has improved the adolescents' mental health. These findings are consistent with the findings of other study conducted by Paragament, Smith, Koening and Perez (2000). They found that the higher levels of tendency-focused coping strategies have positive relationship with mental health while higher levels of other strategies such as religious coping has weaker relation with physical health. The study conducted by Friedman (2002), namely, the effect of teaching the best coping program on enhancing health and the ability to deal with problems and the study conducted by Emrys (2003), namely, the effect of using problem-solving coping strategy on enhancing women's health, and the study conducted by Gray (2004), namely, the effect of teaching coping strategies on improving physical balance and self-controlling in diabetic patients, are consistent with the findings of this study. Second hypothesis was that teaching coping strategies to adolescents is effective on reducing their somatic symptoms that was confirmed by the post-test. The findings of this study are consistent with the findings of the studies conducted by Walker (1992), Aubuchon and Malastesta (1994), Poikoleine (1995). Third hypothesis was that teaching coping strategies to adolescents is effective on reducing their anxiety that was also confirmed by the post-test.. The findings are consistent with the findings of the studies conducted by Frydenberg (2002), Karsen, Idsoe, Dirdal, Hanestad (2004), Dubaw (2000), and Emrys (2003). To explain these findings, we can say that cognitive or problem-focused coping includes recognizing the demands and identifying the external and internal stress-causing factors and then finding a solution to reduce the external and internal demands. These imply the self-control of anxiety and organizing stress causing situations. Fourth hypothesis was that teaching coping strategies to adolescents are effective on enhancing their social functions. According to findings, social function of experimental group has significantly increased compared with that of control group, so; the fourth hypothesis is affirmed by the post-test. These findings are consistent with the findings of the studies conducted by Moos and Schaefor (1993), Dimatto (1991), Calhoun et al. (2002), Parson, Frydenberg, and Poole (2005). Fifth hypothesis was that teaching coping strategies to adolescents is effective on reducing their depression. According to the findings, depression in the experimental group had decreased significantly compared with the control group, so; the fifth hypothesis is confirmed by the post-test. These findings are consistent with the findings of the studies conducted by Seiffge et al. (2000), Gonzalez, Sandeller, Friedman (2001), and Wodarski (2003).

5. Limitations

- In this study two intact groups were selected from a boarding house randomly and this may influence the generalizability of findings.

- The load of executive tasks such as gathering data from boarding houses that are run under tough regulations made the procedures very long and imposed lack of time.

6. Suggestions

According to the results, it was affirmed that teaching coping strategies can improve the mental health, it is suggested that organizations and institutions like family judiciary and counseling centers of public education teach such skills to enhance the mental health of all the people in any society. It is also suggested to use teaching coping strategies as an interference strategy in counseling centers. Last but not least, it is suggested to do this research with different samples as the aim of replicating a research is not only to achieve the same results in a different situation but to find innovative procedures and to obtain new ideas and achieve new results.

Acknowledgements

I would like to thank all those who have been of invaluable assistance in the preparation of this study.

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