Emotional Problems Among Children And Adolescents In Mauritius
: An Investigation Of Prevalence And Prevention

  • Karishma Sharma Ramdhonee-Dowlot

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


Emotional problems in childhood and adolescence are the most common mental health concerns affecting young people in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). The frequent co-occurrence of emotional problems such as anxiety and depression with risk factors is often associated with negative outcomes and can cause significant impairments that tend to persist into adulthood. Children and adolescents experiencing elevated depressive or anxiety symptoms, but not fulfilling the criteria for a diagnostic mental health disorder, are often left without adequate treatment. Despite important mental health implications for youth however, limited to no research in LMICs such as Mauritius has documented the prevalence of emotional problems in order to inform preventative interventions for children and adolescents with emotional problems. This thesis aimed to close this gap by firstly assessing the prevalence of emotional problems in LMICs and Mauritius and secondly by adapting a transdiagnostic evidence- based intervention programme (i.e. Super Skills for Life) for prevention of emotional problems among vulnerable children and adolescents living in residential care institutions (RCIs).
To achieve these aims, four studies were conducted with a mixed- method research design. Study 1 examined the prevalence of emotional problems among children and adolescents in LMICs through a systematic review analysis of 43 studies (N = 95,512) across 20 LMICs. Study 2 specifically examined the prevalence of emotional problems and the associated risk factors among adolescents in Mauritius (N = 818). Study 3 examined the acceptability and feasibility of the SSL programme through a cultural adaptation of the intervention among a sample of children and adolescents (N = 36) in RCIs. The findings of Study 3 led to a randomised controlled trial in Study 4 (N = 100) in order to examine the effectiveness of the SSL in reducing emotional problems and building emotional resilience among children and adolescents in RCIs.
The prevalence of emotional problems across LMICs was found to be 41% with a similar prevalence rate of 32% among Mauritian adolescents who were at higher risk of emotional problems. The SSL was found to be acceptable and feasible through a cultural adaptation of the programme content, recruitment, procedures and research method design. The informed RCT study evidenced the effectiveness of the adapted SSL in reduction of emotional problems, behavioural problems, maladaptive emotion regulation strategies and inhibitory control following the SSL intervention and at follow-up. Across the studies, gender and emotion regulation strategies emerged as significant risk factors of emotional problems.
Overall, the studies indicated that Mauritius is not devoid of emotional problems and young Mauritian people are in need of preventative interventions. The SSL is an effective evidence based programme that can help reduce emotional problems and build the emotional resilience of the children and adolescents in RCIs. Collectively, the findings of this thesis have important implications regarding the prevalence and prevention of youth emotional problems in Mauritius. The outcomes and findings of the studies, a first of its kind, were reviewed with recommendations for future research of a similar nature.
Date of Award19 Apr 2022
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Roehampton
SponsorsRoehampton University Sacred Heart Studentship (RUSH)
SupervisorCecilia Essau (Director of Studies) & Kieran Balloo (Co-Supervisor)


  • Emotional Problems
  • intervention
  • children
  • adolescents
  • prevention
  • prevalence

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