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Adolescent Resilience in Northern Uganda: The Role of Social Support and Prosocial Behavior in Reducing Mental Health Problems


Requests for reprints should be sent to Judith K. Bass, Department of Mental Health, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, 624 N. Broadway, Baltimore, MD 21205. E-mail:


We investigated relations between prosocial behavior, perceived social support, and improvement in depression and anxiety symptoms over 6 months among 102 Acholi adolescent (14–17 years, 58% female adolescents) survivors of war and displacement in Northern Uganda. Adolescents were assessed using a locally developed screener. Regression analyses measured the association between resilience factors and mental health outcomes. Findings indicated that high levels of baseline prosocial behaviors were associated with improvement in anxiety symptoms among adolescents with high symptom improvement. This same trend was seen for depression symptoms (= .06). Experiencing caregiver loss modified this association for depression symptoms. Baseline social support was not associated with improvement in depression or anxiety. Results suggest that prosocial behavior is associated with increased resilience.