Learning from young people in Port Harcourt and Bayelsa, Nigeria, about their experiences of depression: a discussion space report

Zainab Mai-Bornu, Diane Levine, Fyneface Dumnamene, Philip Godfrey, Michael Ungar, Linda Theron


Recently, we reported a morning-long discussion (held 7th February 2023) that we held with a group of youth currently living in Johannesburg, South Africa, and self-identifying as Black African (Levine et al., 2023). Black African young people in South Africa typically have the least access to mental health supports, given South Africa’s Apartheid history and ongoing racialised inequity. We wanted to understand their lived experiences and observations of the risks and influences that make African young people vulnerable to elevated levels of depression (i.e., strong feelings of hopelessness, despondency, and sadness). While young people can experience other mental health challenges, our narrow interest in depression was prompted by the knowledge that youth depression is a global emergency, particularly in under-resourced contexts such as Africa (Sankoh et al., 2018), and that African youth are typically under-represented in mental health studies (Steel et al., 2022). Given our long-standing and enduring attention to human resilience since the early 2010s (Theron, 2016; Theron et al., 2013; Theron & Ungar, 2023; Ungar, 2011, 2018, 2021; Ungar & Theron, 2020), we were also interested in learning what young people believed might support youth resilience to mitigate or counter these risks. Finally, we were curious about young people’s thoughts on the value of an empirical study that would produce insight into how best to protect young people living in Africa against elevated levels of depression.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.29311/lwps.2023104419


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