Protecting African youth who are NEET against depression: An investigation of differentially impactful, multisystemic resilience-enablers

Year of award: 2023


  • Prof dr Linda Theron

    University of Pretoria, South Africa

  • Dr Diane Levine

    University of Leicester, United Kingdom

  • Prof Olanrewaju Olaniyan

    University of Ibadan, Nigeria

  • Dr Michael Ungar

    Dalhousie University, Canada

  • Dr Caradee Wright

    South African Medical Research Council, South Africa

  • Prof D Stekel

    University of Nottingham, United Kingdom

  • Prof Olufunmilayo Fawole

    College of Medicine, University of Ibadan, Nigeria

  • Dr Zainab Mai-Bornu

    University of Leicester, United Kingdom

Project summary

Our team members are world leaders in studying multisystemic resilience and youth wellbeing, but we still do not know which precise combination of physical, psychological, social, institutional, and environmental risks and resources predicts stable low/improving versus chronic high/worsening depression trajectories among African youth. Discovery of this combination is urgently needed: within 30 years Africa's young people are likely to be the world's largest youth population, but at least 1 in 5 African youth is 'not in education, employment, or training' (NEET) making them disproportionately vulnerable to depression. To conduct this multisystemic research, we will follow 18-24-year-old youth who are NEET in Nigeria and South Africa (N=2400) for 24 months to identify the network of risk factors and resilience resources that predict depression. Then, to explore resilience-enabling mechanisms further, we will follow for 12 months a subsample who report the highest chronic risk/elevated depression [N=300] versus highest chronic risk/minimal depression (i.e., those who show resilience) [N=300]. The smaller purposeful sample will allow us to gather more contextually specific data on combinations of systemic factors that have the most protective value. This work is vital to pre-empting depression and informing precision interventions tailored to the needs of African youth who are NEET.