Depression, anxiety, suicidal ideation and social determinants of mental health of Romani in Ukraine

Gorbunova, Viktoriia; Klymchuk, Vitalii; Savychenko, Olha; Palii, Valeriia; Kondur, Zemfira; Popenko, Viola and Oates, John (2023). Depression, anxiety, suicidal ideation and social determinants of mental health of Romani in Ukraine. Mental Health and Social Inclusion (Early Access).



Purpose This paper aims to explore the prevalence of depression, anxiety symptoms and suicidal ideation among the Romani population in Ukraine and their connections with various social health determinants: age, gender, household characteristics, employment and living conditions.
Design/methodology/approach For measuring mental health conditions, GAD-7 and PHQ-9 were used. Individual interviews were conducted by trained volunteers of the International Charitable Organization “Roma Women’s Foundation Chirikli”. Data were gathered from January to March 2020.
Findings The overall level of depression found in the sample was 8.08, while the mean for anxiety was 7.22. In general, 32.7% of respondents scored positively for signs of depression and 29.6% for anxiety. The two-week prevalence of suicidal ideations was 26.9%. Compared to the general population, the prevalence of depression among the Romani research participants was twofold higher, and anxiety was 2.5-fold higher. Signs of depression and anxiety in women were significantly higher (36% vs 28.6% for depression and 33.9% vs 24.2% for anxiety) than in men. Signs of depression and anxiety were higher for people without education than for university students (9.32 vs 3.04 for depression and 8.26 vs 3.00 for anxiety). The lowest levels of depression, anxiety and suicidal ideation were among officially married persons (6.61, 6.36 and 0.23, respectively). Significant small positive correlations were found between all measurements and the number of household members (0.149 for depression, 0.124 for suicidal ideation and 0.175 for anxiety; p < 0.001) and the number of children (0.303 for depression, 0.224 for suicidal ideation and 0.243 for anxiety; p < 0.001). In terms of employment, the highest scores for depression, anxiety and suicidal ideation were found among those who are employed seasonally (9.06, 8.25 and 0.61) or irregularly (9.09, 8.12 and 0.57) in contrast with self-employed (4.88, 4.90 and 0.19) and full-time employees (5.86, 5.51 and 0.18). Living place (city, village or camp) showed no relation with mental health, except for suicidal ideation: those living in villages had higher levels of suicidal ideation than those living in cities (0.49 vs 0.31).
Research limitations/implications The study has some limitations. Data were gathered from January to March 2020, and since then, the situation in Ukraine has drastically changed due to the full-scale Russian invasion. While this study’s data and conclusions might serve as a baseline for further research, they do not represent the real-time situation. While many social factors were analysed, the effects found for them do not necessarily represent causality, given the statistical methods used. Interactions among factors were not studied; therefore, no firm conclusions can be made about the effects of those interactions on mental health.
Originality/value To the best of the authors’ knowledge, this paper is original in terms of its topic, as the first-ever in Ukraine quantitative study of mental health and social determinants of mental health of the Romani population.

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