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ASEAN Journal of Community Engagement

Abstract

The ability of adolescents to cope with stressful life events has notbeen well developed. Facing stressfulsituations might trigger them to engage in many dangerous and self-destructivebehaviors. Life skills program in improving mental health of adolescents has been proven in many countries, as it has in Indonesia. In post-disaster situation, there is rarelyany community program which focuses on adolescent mental health. Life skillsprogram is a psychological intervention to teach adolescents to improve theirskill to cope with stress, develop self-esteem, deal with peer pressure, thinkcritically, communicate appropriately and act assertively. Teachers and localhealth professionals who have already been trained about life skills programapply this program in adolescents experiencing a stressful event, a naturaldisaster from the eruption of Mount Merapi in Yogyakarta-Indonesia. This studyattempts to apply and evaluate the effectiveness of the program for adolescentswho had survived a natural disaster in Yogyakarta-Indonesia. Three-weeks lifeskills training was conducted in 2012 on 40 junior and senior high schoolstudents, post Mount Merapi eruption in Yogyakarta and Magelang. Subjects wereassessed for their self-image using Rosenberg self-image questionnaire, andtheir emotional-behavioral problems and mental strength using Strength andDifficulties Questionnaire (SDQ), before and after the training. SPSS was usedfor the statistical analysis. The average age of the subjects was 14.48 +1.21 years old. There were significant differences on the self-esteem andmental strength aspects of the subjects before and after intervention. Score onlow self-esteem was improved (p=0.005), negative self perception also becamebetter (p<0.001), and prosocial behavior was increased (p=0.001). There werealso decreasing difficulties and emotional-behavioral problem score afterintervention, and other aspects of self-esteem such as instability andself-consciousness. Life skills training has several positive effects inimproving mental strength and self-image and decreasing emotional andbehavioral problems of adolescents post-disaster.

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