Depression and Learned Helplessness among Refugee Women in Sub-Saharan Africa: Prevalence and Context

Johannes John-Langba, African Population and Health Research Center (APHRC)

This study examines the prevalence of depression and learned helplessness among women in a refugee camp setting in Botswana. Utilizing the reformulated theory of learned helplessness, a cross-sectional survey of refugee women who were at least 21 years of age and residing at the Dukwi camp in Botswana (n = 402) was conducted in 2003. This investigation found that more than half of the participants (55%) experienced learned helplessness and about 90% were depressed. Learned helplessness was also shown to be a significant predictor of depression. Refugee women with high levels of learned helplessness were two times more likely to be depressed than their counterparts with low levels of learned helplessness. The findings of this study provide practitioners in refugee situations with some indicators of the mental health needs of refugee women in the context of a camp setting in sub-Saharan Africa.

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Presented in Poster Session 5: Health, Mortality, Aging, Biology