Youth in Transition: Developmental Pathways to Risk and Resilience in South India
It is well established that education leads to improved health outcomes in high income countries. The association between education and mental health, however, is less consistent in low and middle income countries (LMIC). Schooling can be a risk factor for adolescent mental health problems including suicide. This may be due to a combination of high expectations, extremely demanding academic environments, and a lack of available psychosocial resources: all factors that can be influenced by educational policy. However, empirical data elucidating the mechanisms connecting the educational context with mental health in such environments is lacking. The goal of our research for South India is two-fold: to develop hypotheses for the association among the school environment, life course models, and neuropsychological functioning. This study addresses the public health and education policy issue of the relationship between the educational environment and mental health employing three methodological perspectives: anthropology, pediatric neuropsychology, and social epidemiology. Our aim for this pilot study is to use ethnographic methods to develop a quantitative assessment of life-course models of protective and risk factors for adolescent well-being, which can be administered in on tablet computers in an innovative interface. We also gather information on the salient aspects of the youth's educational environment from the youth themselves as well as other key informants. The result of this study will be demonstration of conceptual significance and feasible administration of a life course assessment that can be used in larger studies testing hypotheses and piloting interventions across LMIC that minimize mental health risks and optimize mental health benefits of education.