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Teachers’ support and depression among Japanese adolescents: a multilevel analysis



Depression is a major cause of suicide among adolescents. Therefore, childhood and adolescent depression is an important public health concern. This study explored factors as class and individual levels that may influence depression among adolescents in Japan.


A questionnaire survey among junior high school students (N = 2968) from two cities in Japan was conducted. Depression was assessed using the Depression Self-Rating Scale for Children; teachers’ support was assessed using the Scale of Expectancy for Social Support. The class average score of teachers’ support was calculated to indicate what we termed the “homeroom teachers' support.” Multilevel analysis was applied to clarify the relation between homeroom teachers' support and depression.


Finally, 2466 students completed the questionnaire without missing variables (valid response rate, 83.1%). There was no random effect of the teachers' support at the class level on depression, although there was a significant association between teachers' support and depression for 9th graders (β = −0.12, p = 0.009). Moreover, there were significant associations between economic status, having a best friend, and experiencing unforgettable stress at the individual level and depression in all grades.


There was no significant random effect of homeroom teachers' support in class level although there might be marginal negative association between teacher's support and depression. It is suggested that homeroom teachers need to promote population approaches to mental health.

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The authors would like to thank all of the students and teachers who generously that participated in this study, as well as the Boards of Education at Kikugawa City and Kosai City, Shizuoka Prefecture. This study was funded by a Grant-in-Aid for Scientific Research from the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT), Japan (Grant Number 24593437, 15K11880).

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Correspondence to Akiko Mizuta.

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This study was approved by the Institutional Review Board at Hamamatsu University School of Medicine (No. 24-147) and conducted accordance with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

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The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

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Mizuta, A., Suzuki, K., Yamagata, Z. et al. Teachers’ support and depression among Japanese adolescents: a multilevel analysis. Soc Psychiatry Psychiatr Epidemiol 52, 211–219 (2017).

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  • Depression
  • Adolescent
  • Teachers' support
  • Class