Factors associated with children and young people’s mental health in the English-speaking Caribbean region: Systematic review and narrative synthesis

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Studies conducted in regions consisting of low and middle income and developing countries often report high prevalence of mental health problems among children and young people (CYP). To identify some of the contributing factors we examined the available evidence from research in one such setting.

Multiple academic databases and grey literature sources were searched until January 2022. We then identified primary research focusing on CYP’s mental health in the English-speaking Caribbean region. Data was extracted and summarized to form a narrative synthesis of the factors associated with CYP’s mental health. The synthesis was then organised according to the social-ecological model. The Joanna Briggs Institute’s critical appraisal tools were used to examine the quality of the reviewed evidence. The study protocol was registered with PROSPERO, CRD42021283161.

From 9684 records, 83 publications representing CYP ages 3 to 24 years from 13 countries met our inclusion criteria. The evidence was varied in quality, quantity and consistency for 21 factors associated with CYP’s mental health. Adverse events and negative peer to peer and sibling relationships were consistently associated with mental health problems, while helpful coping strategies were associated with better mental health. There were mixed findings for age, sex/gender, race/ethnicity, academic level, comorbidity, positive affect, health risks behaviours, religion/prayer, parent history, parent to parent and parent to child relationships, school/employment, geography and social status. There was also some limited evidence for associations between sexuality, screen time and policies/procedures and CYP’s mental health. At least 40% of the evidence contributing to each of the factors was judged as high quality.

Individual, relationship, community and societal factors may influence CYP’s mental health outcomes in the English-speaking Caribbean. Knowledge of these factors is useful to inform early identification and early interventions. More research is needed to explore inconsistent findings and understudied areas.
Original languageEnglish
Article number0282666
JournalPLoS ONE
Early online date8 Mar 2023
Publication statusPublished - 8 Mar 2023

Research Institutes

  • Health Research Institute

Research Centres

  • Research Centre for Arts and Wellbeing
  • Sport and Mental Health Research Centre

Research Groups

  • Children and Young People Research Network
  • Sport, Work and Health Research Group


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