Anxiety and depressive symptoms in adolescence in relation to teacher support, socioeconomic status and gender differences
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The aim of this thesis was to investigate anxiety and depressive symptoms in adolescence in relation to teacher support, socioeconomic status and gender differences. To investigate this, the present study used a cross-sectional study design including 574 adolescents, of which 311 boys and 258 girls. Data was obtained through surveys based on validated measures. Descriptive statistics, correlation analysis and mediation analysis were performed to investigate the aim. 33.9% of the adolescents reported that they were bothered or distressed quite a lot or very bothered or distressed with anxiety and depressive symptoms, compared to 15-25 % in upper-secondary schools on national level. 25.3% of the girls and 8.6% of the boys reported such symptoms. The mean level of anxiety and depressive symptoms was 1.92 (on a scale x-x), 1.65 in boys and 2.24 in girls. The mean level of perceived teacher support was 3.71 (on a scale ranging from 1-5). Boys reported a significantly higher level of teacher support compared to girls, 3.86 and 3.55 respectively. Totally, 81.0% of the adolescents reported that they perceived the teachers as supportive, of which 50% of the boys and 31% of the girls perceived their teacher as supportive. A negative correlation between perceived teacher support and level of anxiety and depressive symptoms was found. The mean level of family income was reported to be 3.76 on a scale ranging from 1-5, with no significant gender differences found. However, anxiety and depressive symptoms correlated negatively with family income level. The relationship between family income level, anxiety and depressive symptoms, and teacher support was investigated by mediation analysis. Analysis found that teacher support partly mediated the relationship between socioeconomic status and anxiety and depressive symptoms in adolescence. The findings are discussed in light of Bourdieu’s social capital theory, the health asset theory and self-determination theory. Study implications in the field of health promotion and health psychology, and suggestions for further research are presented.