Caribbean Journal of Psychology: Vol. 2, Issue 1, 2004

Article 4
Depression among Fourth-Form Students in Three High Schools in Kingston, Jamaica

Gillian Lowe
Garth Lipps
Wendel Abel
The University of the West Indies, Mona


Much of the research on adolescent depression has been done with North American or European samples (e.g., Byrne & Campbell, 1999; Terri, 1982). Relatively little research on depression has been conducted using West Indian or Jamaican youth. This study examined the clinical presentation of adolescent depression among 457 fourth form (grade 10) students attending three high schools in Kingston, Jamaica. As part of a larger study, these students completed the Beck Depression Inventory as well as measures of socio-demographic background and family composition. In contrast to international studies, a relatively large percentage of Jamaican secondary school students in our study were in the normal or minimally depressed range of scores. However, depression was not equally distributed across the three schools. The prevalence of depression in the elite co-educational school was similar to North American schools. However, within the inner-city school, the prevalence of depression was higher with no significant gender differences. It appears that our findings may mirror differences in the social structure of Jamaican society with the implication that some subgroups may be exposed to a more depressogenic environment.