Psychosocial Challenges and Coping Strategies Among Adolescent School Going Mothers,in Lusaka District of Zambia

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Nkwemu, Shanny
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University of Zambia
Introduction: Although adolescent school going mothers consider going back to school after giving birth, they may not be able to succeed mentally and academically if the support they need from the teachers, fellow pupils and the community is inadequate. The girls experience challenges and fail to combat stigma attached to them as young mothers. They feel disempowered and therefore, become resistance which in most cases may lead to unwanted behavior and drop out of school. The purpose of this study was to explore the psychosocial challenges faced by adolescent school going mothers and how they are coping. Method: A qualitative case study design was used. Data was collected through in-depth interviews among 24 adolescent school going mothers between the ages of 16–19 who were purposively selected from 2 schools in Lusaka district. Data was analysed using a thematic method. From the information recorded in each discussion, major themes and sub-themes were identified. Scripts were transcribed into Nvivo 10. Results: The findings of the study revealed that the girls had challenges; they were stigmatized and discriminated by some teachers, labelled by the community they lived in, gossiped and isolated by their fellow classmates. Despite all these challenges, some girls coped positively with the situation through spiritual intervention and resilience while other coped negatively through beer drinking and staying away from home. This resulted in low self-esteem, inferiority complex, and identity crises on the young mothers. The girls found it difficult to adjustment to motherhood as well as do their schoolwork. Conclusion: The challenges experienced by young mothers in three environments cause the girls not to balance between schoolwork and motherhood. All this happens because they are not emotionally supported by the teachers, fellow pupils and the community; as a result they become resistance and adopt undesirable behaviours. While beer drinking and skipping school days may be beneficial to the teen mother, it may lead to their failure as learners. There is a need therefore, to address the teachers, community and the learners in the schools, to highlight the challenges which teen mothers are facing so that health support programs specifically designed to meet the need of adolescent school going mothers be integrated into the school curriculum. Keywords; Adolescent, school, mother, going, challenges,
M Public Health
Teenage mother--Zambia , Teenage pregnancy-Zambia