Rosalba Company Córdoba, Diego Gómez-Baya, F. López Gaviño, F., Joaquín Alejandro Ibáñez-Alfonso
International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Growing up in vulnerable conditions has an impact on children and adolescents’ mental health and well-being outcomes. However, this evidence has rarely been obtained in middle and low-income countries like Guatemala, where food insecurity and exposure to violence frequently threaten childhood development. The aim of this study was to analyse the relations that sociodemographic and socioeconomic factors have with psychological adjustment of low-socioeconomic status (SES) Guatemalan children and adolescents, and how these relations were mediated by food insecurity and exposure to violence. A total of 185 participants (50.8% girls; aged between 6 to 17, M = 11.82, SD = 3.7) from three vulnerable schools located in rural and urban areas of Guatemala were assessed. The results indicated that exposure to violence significantly moderates the effect of sociodemographic and socioeconomic variables in measures of depression, anxiety and health-related quality of life. Adolescents more exposed to violence reported higher levels of depression and anxiety, as well as lower levels of health-related quality of life. In contrast, food insecurity did not seem to influence psychological adjustment outcomes in this low-SES sample. These findings highlight the relevance of exposure to violence for mental health and well-being, and is a factor that should be considered when designing public health policies to promote children and adolescents’ welfare.