A cross-sectional analysis of mental health disorders in a mental health services-seeking population of children, adolescents, and young adults in the context of ongoing violence and displacement in northern Cameroon.

Djatche JM Herrington OD Nzebou D Galusha D Boum Y Hassan S
Comprehensive psychiatry 2021 Dec 20; 113 152293. doi: 10.1016/j.comppsych.2021.152293. Epub 2021 12 20
Adolescents Anxiety Children Internally displaced persons Refugees Sub-Saharan Africa


BACKGROUND: Displacement and conflict exposure are known risk factors for mental health conditions. Here, we examine the mental health of youth in a conflict-affected region of Cameroon.

METHODS: Participants were recruited from among beneficiaries of a project conducted by Univers Psy and the United Nations Population Fund in Cameroon's Far North region. Community health workers conducted sensitization campaigns, following which they referred adolescents and young adults who self-identified as having mental health concerns to clinical psychologists. We ultimately conducted chart reviews of 948 of these youth. Univariate analyses using chi-squared tests were used to assess the relationships among demographics, displacement status, and mental health. Logistic regressions were then performed to determine the odds of having a psychiatric disorder based on displacement status.

OUTCOME: Sixty-eight percent of evaluated youth met criteria for a psychiatric disorder. Anxiety disorders were most prevalent at 24.3%, followed by trauma- and stressor-related disorders at 17.0%, and mood disorders at 8.0%. Refugees and IDPs had 0.11 (95% CI 0.06, 0.19) and 0.46 (95% CI 0.29, 0.74) odds, respectively, of any diagnosis compared to the host population. Females had 1.71 (95% CI 1.17, 2.50) odds of an anxiety disorder and 2.18 (95% CI 1.16, 4.10) odds of a mood disorder compared to males.

INTERPRETATION: In a youth sample in Cameroon self-identified as having mental health concerns, this study found high rates of psychiatric illness, particularly anxiety disorders. We found a higher prevalence among host population individuals than among displaced individuals and especially in the female population.

Copyright © 2021. Published by Elsevier Inc.