Young Lives is currently conducting the seventh round of our household survey as part of the Young Lives at Work programme, funded by the UK’s Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office. With new funding from the Wellcome Trust, we are able to extend the core survey to collect additional information on young people’s mental health, including perceived stress and hair cortisol levels, as well as other measures used to assess symptoms compatible with anxiety, depression and, in the case of Ethiopia, post-traumatic stress disorders.
Young Lives will be the largest longitudinal study to examine cortisol in hair samples in low-and-middle-income countries. Cortisol is a key measure of stress and is released by the body in response to both acute stressors and long-term stressors (e.g., decline in food availability, environmental shocks, socio-economic stressors) and possibly conflict. Measuring stress through cortisol will provide an objective measure of stress to be analysed alongside self-reported measures, as it is not prone to survey effects.
The new data, and related research, will contribute to our growing understanding of the impact of unprecedented global crises (COVID-19, climate change and conflict) on young people’s subjective wellbeing and mental health and will provide a unique opportunity for enhanced analysis of how early life shocks impact mental health, across two decades of data, building on a wealth of existing Young Lives evidence.
The Wellcome Trust funding will also support an additional survey module to measure the impact of the recent conflict in Ethiopia on young people’s mental health using a combination of in- person questionnaires and self-administered audio questionnaires.
In preparation for the inclusion of these additional modules, prior to the rollout of Round 7 in Ethiopia, the team conducted a pre-pilot with a sample of young people living in similar circumstances. You can read our blog sharing initial findings from this pre-pilot survey data.
The fieldwork will be completed across the Young Lives study countries in 2024 and preliminary findings from Round 7 will be published in 2025.
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