OBJECTIVE: To describe the prevalence of common mental disorders in Brazilian adolescent students, according to geographical macro-regions, school type, sex, and age. METHODS: We evaluated 74,589 adolescents who participated in the Cardiovascular Risk Study in Adolescents (ERICA), a cross-sectional, national, school-based study conducted in 2013-2014 in cities with more than 100,000 inhabitants. A self-administered questionnaire and an electronic data collector were employed. The presence of common mental disorders was assessed using the General Health Questionnaire (GHQ-12). We estimated prevalence and 95% confidence intervals of common mental disorders by sex, age, and school type, in Brazil and in the macro-regions, considering the sample design. RESULTS: The prevalence of common mental disorders was of 30.0% (95%CI 29.2-30.8), being higher among girls (38.4%; 95%CI 37.1-39.7) when compared to boys (21.6%; 95%CI 20.5-22.8), and among adolescents who were from 15 to 17 years old (33.6%; 95%CI 32.2-35.0) compared to those aged between 12 and 14 years (26.7%; 95%CI 25.8-27.6). The prevalence of common mental disorders increased with age for both sexes, always higher in girls (ranging from 28.1% at 12 years to 44.1% at 17 years) than in boys (ranging from 18.5% at 12 years to 27.7% at 17 years). We did not observe any significant difference by macro-region or school type. Stratified analyses showed higher prevalence of common mental disorders among girls aged from 15 to 17 years of private schools in the North region (53.1; 95%CI 46.8-59.4). CONCLUSIONS: The high prevalence of common mental disorders among adolescents and the fact that the symptoms are often vague mean these disorders are not so easily identified by school administrators or even by health services. The results of this study can help the proposition of more specific prevention and control measures, focused on highest risk subgroups. DESCRIPTORS: Adolescent. Mental Disorders, epidemiology. Prevalence. Mental Health. Cross-Sectional Studies.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health