Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology

, Volume 42, Issue 9, pp 759–769 | Cite as

Psychological well-being in Black Caribbean, Black African, and White adolescents in the UK Medical Research Council DASH study

  • Maria J. Maynard
  • Seeromanie Harding
  • Helen Minnis



It is not known if adolescents from diverse groups of Black African origin experience similar or different psychological well-being.


To examine adolescent self-report of psychological well-being among Black African and White UK origin groups and to assess the extent to which family type and social deprivation influence any ethnic differences.


The 25-item Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ) was used to assess psychological well-being in a study of 6,632 11–13 year-olds in 51 schools in London.


Overall, family type (but not material deprivation) was an important independent correlate of psychological well-being. Nigerian/Ghanaian boys reported the lowest mean Total Difficulties Score (TDS) compared to White boys (regression coefficient (95% CI) −2.09 (−2.83, −1.35) < 0.001). They also had significantly higher mean pro-social behaviour score, and were at reduced risk of a high (i.e., likely psychological distress) TDS score. TDS was also significantly lower than Whites for Other African boys and girls. Other African and Mixed ethnicities were protective factors against risk of psychological distress for girls.


Black African boys and Other African boys and girls reported the most favourable psychological well-being scores. The influence of family type on mental health may operate differently for girls compared to boys and for Africans compared to other ethnic groups.

Key words

ethnicity adolescents family social disadvantage mental health 



The study is funded by the Medical Research Council. We are grateful for the support of the community figures, schools, parents and students involved in the study. We also thank the fieldwork team involved in the data collection.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Maria J. Maynard
    • 1
  • Seeromanie Harding
    • 1
  • Helen Minnis
    • 2
  1. 1.Medical Research Council Social and Public Health Sciences UnitGlasgowUK
  2. 2.Section of Psychological MedicineUniversity of GlasgowGlasgowUK

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