Inverse association of natural mentoring relationship with distress mental health in children orphaned by AIDS

Onuoha, Francis N.; Munakata, Tsunetsugu
January 2010
BMC Psychiatry;2010, Vol. 10, Special section p1
Academic Journal
Background: The magnitude of the AIDS-orphaned children crisis in sub-Saharan Africa has so overstretched the resource of most families that the collapse of fostering in the sub-region seems imminent (UNICEF, 2003), fueling the need for a complementary/alternative care. This paper examines the probability of the natural mentoring care to ameliorate distress mental health in children orphaned by AIDS. Methods: 952 children, mean age about 14 years, from local community schools and child-care centers in Kampala (Uganda) and Mafikeng/Klerksdorp (South Africa) towns participated in the study. The design has AIDS-orphaned group (n = 373) and two control groups: Other-causes orphaned (n = 287) and non-orphaned (n = 290) children. We use measures of child abuse, depression, social discrimination, anxiety, parental/foster care, self-esteem, and social support to estimate mental health. Natural mentoring care is measured with the Ragins and McFarlin (1990) Mentor Role Instrument as adapted. Results: AIDS-orphaned children having a natural mentor showed significant decreased distress mental health factors. Similar evidence was not observed in the control groups. Also being in a natural mentoring relationship inversely related to distress mental health factors in the AIDS-orphaned group, in particular. AIDS-orphaned children who scored high mentoring relationship showed significant lowest distress mental health factors that did those who scored moderate and low mentoring relationship. Conclusions: Natural mentoring care seems more beneficial to ameliorate distress mental health in AIDS-orphaned children (many of whom are double-orphans, having no biological parents) than in children in the control groups.


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