This desk review reports available published information relating to youth mental health in east and southern Africa (ESA). It was implemented within and informs collaborative work on youth mental health in the region in EQUINET between Training and Research Support Centre (TARSC), the International Working Group for Health Systems Strengthening (IWGHSS) and the pra4equity and PAROnline network, specifically Country Minders for Peoples Development (CMPD), Malawi, and the Centre for Youth Driven Development Initiative (CFYDDI), Uganda. The desk review explored patterns and determinants of youth mental health in the region; how the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and responses to it have affected this; where youth seek and obtain support for mental health needs and the perceived challenges and gaps. It presents recommendations for improving the responses to mental health challenges. The COVID-19 lockdown and social distancing measures led to difficulties, with online learning and loss of work and rising costs intensifying some factors and increasing mental stress, as well as suicidal ideas and substance and alcohol abuse among youth. Youth mental health is a pertinent issue for the ESA region, more so due to the impact of the pandemic, but is not well recognised by formal services and policy. The review evidence points to a need, intensified by COVID-19, to co-create with young people strategies for preventing and responding to youth mental illness and its drivers and consequences.
Equity in health, Poverty and health, Equitable health services, Governance and participation in health
Title of publication Diss paper 122: Youth mental health in the context of COVID-19 in East and Southern Africa: A desk review
Date of publication
EQUINET discussion paper 122, IWGHSS and TARSC, EQUINET, Harare
youth, mental health, east and southern Africa
East and southern Africa region
Equinet Publication Type