Rethinking mental health wellness among adolescents living with HIV in the African context: An integrative review of mental wellness components


OBJECTIVE: Adolescents living with HIV (ALHIV) are considered to be at heightened risk for developing mental health problems in comparison to their peers due to the burden of living with a stigmatized condition and managing a chronic condition. Poorer mental health outcomes among ALHIV are associated with lower rates of adherence to anti-retroviral therapy (ART). It is necessary to improve mental wellness among ALHIV as this acts as a buffer against developing mental health problems which, if left untreated can evolve into mental health disorders. Research on mental wellness concepts among ALHIV is underdeveloped which is associated with a lack of appropriate measures of mental wellness. We conducted an integrative review to conceptualize mental wellness and consider the critical components for measuring mental wellness in ALHIV. METHOD: An integrative review of published literature focusing on mental wellness of ALHIV in the African context was conducted. The process was guided by the PRISMA operational steps. As part of our problem identification phase, we drew on findings from a previous systematic review of mental wellness instruments and a qualitative photovoice study on exploring the experiences of ALHIV, to develop an initial framework of 13 mental wellness concepts and behaviors which informed the search strategy. RESULTS: The review included 17 articles from which we identified six mental wellness concepts: Connectedness, Sense of Coherence (SOC), Self-esteem, Self-acceptance, Hope for the Future and Spirituality as well as six behaviors facilitating mental wellness: Coping, Resilience, Purpose in Life (goals), Self-efficacy, Adherence Self-efficacy, and Leisure Activities. All of these concepts and behaviors have been noted in our previous research (systematic review and qualitative work), with the exception of adherence self-efficacy. Based on the findings from this review and our previous work, we adapted the Salutogenic Model of Health developed by Antonovsky in 1987, to propose a Salutogenic Model of Mental Wellness (SMoMW) for ALHIV in the African context. This SMoMW may be used to develop an age and culturally appropriate measure of mental wellness for ALHIV. CONCLUSION: The findings from this review used to conceptualize mental wellness among ALHIV which can be used to develop a measurement of mental wellness.


Orth Z, van Wyk B




  • Population(s)
    • Children or Youth (less than 18 years old)
    • General HIV+ population
  • Health Systems
    • Delivery arrangements


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