SEOUL, April 5 (Korea Bizwire) – Teenage students who consider themselves to be economically disadvantaged experience stress, depression and thoughts of suicide significantly more often than those who are better off, according to a report published yesterday.
The study conducted by the Korea Institute for Health and Social Affairs (KIHASA) on the mental health and health behavior of youth revealed experiencing economic inequality and social deprivation can have harmful effects on the mind.
Researchers used a sample of around 68,000 students who participated in a 2015 online survey conducted by the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to further analyze the correlation between health behavior and the mental health of young Koreans.
While nearly 35 percent of the respondents said they suffered from either ‘great’ or ‘quite a lot of’ stress, groups divided by household income responded differently.
Among students who considered themselves to be upper-class in terms of income, 30.4 percent said they were under stress. For those who thought of themselves as either upper-middle class or middle-class, a slightly higher number of students said they were under stress, at 31.9 and 34.2 percent respectively.
Lower class students, however, returned a drastically different answer with 45 percent of lower-middle class students and 55.8 percent of lower class students replying that they suffered from stress.
When it came to depression and thoughts of suicide, similar patterns emerged.
Nearly 24 percent of the students surveyed said they felt sad or depressed for more than two weeks to the point where their everyday life was impacted.
The survey also revealed that 29.1 percent of lower-middle students and 41.4 of lower class students said they had experienced depression before, while the percentage of students in the upper, upper-middle and middle income brackets who had suffered from depression in the past all stayed below 23 percent.
The number of students who had thought about suicide also varied widely between different income groups, with the gap being as wide as almost 27 percent.
In terms of living circumstances, students who lived with relatives were more prone to depression and stress than those who lived with their family members.
Researchers at the KIHASA said, “Teenagers from lower income households who live with relatives or at care facilities were thought to be more at risk of mental health problems. We need countermeasures that consider these factors to tackle the issue.”
Hyunsu Yim (firstname.lastname@example.org)