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01.12.2019 | Primary research | Ausgabe 1/2019 Open Access

Annals of General Psychiatry 1/2019

Mental health profile and its relation with parental alcohol use problems and/or the experience of abuse in a sample of Moroccan high school students: an explorative study

Annals of General Psychiatry > Ausgabe 1/2019
Btissame Zouini, Anis Sfendla, Britt Hedman Ahlström, Meftaha Senhaji, Nóra Kerekes
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Studies on mental health are scarce from Arab countries, especially studies focusing on adolescents. In addition to the neurobiological and physiological changes that occur during adolescent development, psychological, societal and cultural influences have strong effects on adolescents’ behavior and on their somatic and mental health. The present study aimed (1) to describe the mental health profile, operationalized as psychological distress, of a sample of Moroccan adolescents, and (2) to investigate how specific psychosocial factors (parental alcohol use problems and the experience of physical and/or psychological abuse) may affect adolescents’ mental health.


The sample included 375 adolescents from conveniently selected classes of four high schools in the city of Tetouan in Morocco. The participants responded to an anonymous survey containing, beside other inventories, the Brief Symptom Inventory (BSI) and identified those reporting parental alcohol use problems and/or the previous experience of abuse. The sample characteristics were defined using descriptive statistics. The effects of the defined psychosocial factors were identified using the Kruskal–Wallis test, followed by the post hoc Fisher’s least significant difference test.


The most common problems found in high school students from an urban region of Morocco were memory problems, concentration difficulties, restlessness, fear, nervosity and feelings of inadequacy during interpersonal interactions. The female students reported significantly higher psychological distress levels when compared to the male students (p < 0.001). The adolescents reporting parental alcohol use problems and the experience of physical/psychological abuse showed significantly higher levels of psychological distress (p = 0.02), especially symptoms of somatization (p < 0.001), hostility (p = 0.005) and anxiety (p = 0.01), than those not reporting any of these psychosocial factors.


The mental health profile of female adolescents from an urban area of Morocco is worse than that of their male fellow students. Adolescents reporting parental alcohol use problems and/or the experience of physical/psychological abuse need synchronized support from social- and healthcare services.
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