Psychosocial support and marginalization of youth-headed households in Rwanda

ArticleinAIDS Care 18(3):220-9 · May 2006with22 Reads
Impact Factor: 1.60 · DOI: 10.1080/09540120500456656 · Source: PubMed
Abstract

This research aims to characterize the psychosocial aspects of well-being among youth-headed households (YHH) in Gikongoro, Rwanda, through examination of social support and marginalization. Data is presented on perceived availability of support from relatives, an unidentified adult, peers, and other community members and an index of social marginalization. A total of 692 interviews were completed with YHH age 13-24 who are beneficiaries of a basic needs program. Sixteen percent of youth reported there was no one they felt they could go to with a problem. In times of need, only 24% felt relatives would help them, while 57% felt neighbors would offer assistance. Most youth reported significant caring relationships: 73% reported access to trusted adult who offers them advice and guidance, and most indicated close peer relationships. However, many youth also perceived a lack of community support, with 86% feeling rejected by the community and 57% feeling the community would rather hurt them than help them. Social support is a low-cost critical resource for the care of vulnerable youth and an understanding of existing social support networks would enhance the design and implementation of psychosocial and community-based care initiatives.

    • "Research revealed that youth heads of household are separated from extended families and communities (Thurman et al., 2006). Socially marginalized youth, who have weakened or severed family and social ties, are vulnerable to sexual exploitation and drug use (Stevens, 1999). "
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    • "With regard to the living environment, children in orphanages perceived a higher level of social support from adults, community and relatives than did children living in other environments. The findings corroborated those of Thurman et al. (2006), who found that orphans in child-headed households in Rwanda perceived less support from the community than did those on the street. The perception of support from adults for those in orphanages was higher than that of children living in other environments. "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Little is known about the buffering role of social support among orphans living in Africa. This study examined (1) how perceived social support (PSS) varied across orphan-related characteristics (e.g., orphan status, such as single, maternal or paternal, and their living environments, such as in child-headed households, on the street, in an orphanage or in a foster home) and (2) the relative importance of sources of PSS (relatives/community/adults and peers) and functional social support (emotional/informational/instrumental and social) and its association with emotional well-being and mental distress. The participants included 430 orphaned Rwandan children and youth aged between 10 and 25 years (Mean age = 17.74), of whom (n = 179, 41.6%) were females and (n = 251, 58.4%) were males. Result showed that children living in an orphanage exhibited a higher level of PSS from all sources of social support than did children in other living environments. A higher level of PSS from relatives, communities and adults was associated with high level of emotional well-being, and only adult support was associated with low level of mental distress. Furthermore, the functional PSS indicated that emotional support and companionship support were equally important in their association with higher levels of emotional well-being and lower levels of mental distress. The findings highlight the importance of having different sources of social support and their functions in relation to psychosocial well-being.
    No preview · Article · Mar 2016 · Review of Social Development
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    • "The disintegration of social bonds has been hypothesized to be an important factor in hindering psychological adjustment (Scholte et al., 2011). Orphans in Rwanda have been found to have a severe lack of social support, most notably support from an adult (Thurman et al., 2006). This was especially true for orphaned heads of household (OHH), who reported that unlike their younger siblings or housemates, they had no one to turn to for advice or assistance (Ward & Eyber, 2009). "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Thousands of orphaned survivors of the 1994 Rwandan Genocide against the Tutsi were not only exposed to extraordinarily severe forms of violence, but many of these children took on the responsibility of caring and providing for other child survivors. This study describes the poverty, educational attainment, social support, and mental health of orphaned heads of household (OHH) 14 years after the genocide, and analyzes how violence exposure during the genocide and postgenocide stressors contributed to symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and distress. Participants were 61 members of an OHH community organization who were interviewed in 2002 about their genocide experiences and who provided a follow-up assessment of postgenocide risk factors and PTSD and distress symptoms in 2008. Almost all of the OHH in this study reported low social support, high levels of poverty, and high rates of PTSD and distress symptoms. Lower educational attainment predicted PTSD symptoms and partially mediated the association between exposure to genocide violence and PTSD. Distress was predicted by lack of social support and witnessing family members harmed during the genocide. Results suggest that public health and community efforts to improve educational outcomes and to strengthen and expand social support networks may improve mental health outcomes of OHH.
    Full-text · Article · Apr 2015
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