Mental Health and Teenage Motherhood

By: Annastasia N Musese, Clinical Psychologist

There is vast literature on teenage pregnancy that is appreciated and acknowledged, however, there is information gaps in teenage motherhood as a phenomenon.

A study on Mental Health and Coping strategies of teenage mothers in the Kavango regions, found that, teenage motherhood an aftermath of teenage pregnancy, is a result of psychosocial crises involving experiments and exploration during the adolescent period. The study revealed that teenage mothers experience a wide range of negative emotional setbacks, namely; feelings of sadness, worry, stress, regret, guilt, symptoms of moderate to severe depression and anxiety, stigma and/or mockery from society, lack of emotional and financial support.

Teenage mothers also expressed fear of disclosing their problems to parents, teachers or peers, on the other hand, others reported an absence of emotional support. The stress and challenges experienced are centered on their dual role and/or responsibilities as teenage mothers. All the above, was reported to affect attention, concentration, performance and their roles to be good mothers. There is evidence in a decrease academic performance and school dropout. The availability of emotional support, such as ongoing motivation and encouragement, moreover, financial assistance from either parents, peers or educators was found to minimize stress and the reported challenges.

The aforementioned places great significance on supportive structures. The availability of support was found to minimize the burden and psychological distress experienced by teenage mothers. For this reason, supportive services such as availability of psychotherapy and counselling services (especially in remote areas) are recommended to assist teenage mothers address and manage their emotional needs and setbacks. Support is envisaged to improve academic challenges, therefore, decreasing overall rates of school dropouts, empower young mothers and eliminate gender disparities in the education and employment sectors in Namibia.   

The aforementioned places great significance on supportive structures. The availability of support was found to minimize the burden and psychological distress experienced by teenage mothers. For this reason, supportive services such as availability of psychotherapy and counselling services (especially in remote areas) are recommended to assist teenage mothers address and manage their emotional needs and setbacks. Support is envisaged to improve academic challenges, therefore, decreasing overall rates of school dropouts, empower young mothers and eliminate gender disparities in the education and employment sectors in Namibia.   

Below is a link to a full study done by Annastasia Nepemba Musese for her Master’s thesis titled: Mental Health and Coping strategies of teenage mothers in the Kavango regions.

http://repository.unam.edu.na/handle/11070/2255

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