Mental Health of Early Adolescents from High-risk Neighborhoods: The Role of Maternal HIV and Other Contextual, Self-Regulation, and Family Factors

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ObjectivesTo examine the effect of maternal HIV infection, as well as other individual, family, and contextual factors on the mental health of inner-city, ethnic minority early adolescents.MethodsParticipants included 220 HIV-negative early adolescents (10–14 years) and their mothers, half of whom were HIV-infected. Individual interviews were conducted regarding youth depression, anxiety, externalizing and internalizing behaviour problems, as well as a range of correlates of youth mental health guided by a modified version of Social Action Theory, a theoretical model of behavioral health.ResultsAlthough the HIV status of mothers alone did not predict youth mental health, youth knowledge of mother's HIV infection and mother's overall health were associated with worse youth mental health outcomes, as were contextual, self-regulation, and family interaction factors from our theoretical model.ConclusionsThere is a need for family-based mental health interventions for this population, particularly focusing on parent–child relationships, disclosure, and youth self-esteem.

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