Positive affect of insect-mediated mental healthcare program to adolescent’s emotions

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  • ABSTRACT

    Several insects have been shown to exert a strong influence positively on peoples’ emotions. Insect-mediated mental healthcare program was designed to help meet the physical, behavioral and developmental needs of adolescents. They were provided with an insectmediated mental healthcare program for a total of 10 sessions, one session per wk, at 1 h per session, accompanied by a pre- and post-test for emotion. Significant differences and correlations were found according to the individual participants’ planning, subjective quality of life, self-reported depression and self-worth, respectively. The results indicated that adolescents who participated in the insect-mediated healthcare program group once showed significant improvement in their planning, subjective quality of life and self-worth. However, most of all participants’ self-reported depression was not influenced. These findings suggest that pet-insects positively affect adolescent’s emotional health via an insect-mediated healthcare program.


  • KEYWORD

    insect , mental healthcare program , adolescents , emotions

  • Introduction

    Insects are easily found in nearly every environment. They are among the most diverse groups of animals on Earth. The insect species is estimated at between six and ten million, and there are more species of insects than all other animals put together (Chapman 2009; Novotny et al., 2002). Although humans regard certain insects as pests and attempt to control them using insecticides, most insects perform complex ecological roles and provide either direct or indirect economic benefits to humans(Cherniack, 2010; Ratcliffe et al.,2011). Recently, the interest of insects is increasing as food sources or as pets in many countries, including Korea.

    Mental problem has affected 10-20% of children and adolescents in worldwide (Kieling et al., 2011). Exposure to disadvantaged environments during early life predicts lower IQ and academic achievement, increased anti-social behavior, lower economic productivity and poor health and chronic disease in adulthood (Barker et al., 2003; Shonkoff et al., 2009). Therefore, an appropriate mental healthcare program for adolescents is required to prevent these problems. Various therapies have been developed to prevent mental health problems, including music therapy, art therapy, play therapy, drama therapy, horticultural therapy, dance therapy, and animal-assisted therapy (Marcus 2013; Maratos et al., 2011; RenXia 2013; Chinekesh et al., 2014; Hussain 2010).

    Worldwide trend towards insects as pet is increasing. The merits of pet-insects are that they are nearby and affordable, do not require much specialized care except for feeding, and they can be kept in relatively little space than other animal. In Korea, several pet-insects are commercialized, but most of them are limited to two types of insects, Dynastinae and Lucanidae. Also, some people prefer a butterflies and crickets as pet-insects.

    Previous studies showed that insects are felt mostly positive in people through surveys of peoples’ preferences for insects (Bae et al., 2014; Bae et al., 2013). The rearing and observation of insects and insect-related events may provide positive feelings and even affection in adolescents. Therefore, it would be possible that insects are used effectively as a therapeutic tool for adolescents. In this study, we developed an insect-mediated healthcare program for adolescents and investigated the effects of this program on the emotional health of adolescents.

    Materials and Methods

      >  Design

    This study utilized a pre-test/post-test design and included an experimental group. The questionnaires included items that measured planning, subjective quality of life, self-reported depression, self-worth. The questions were simple and clear, and the questionnaire’s reliability and stability had been previously demonstrated (Bae et al., 2014; Bae et al., 2013). One or twohours insect-mediated mental healthcare program sections were run in the morning once weekly for 10 wk (Table 1). The participant consisted of 15 second graders (12 males, 3 females) attending Hansol middle school in Korea.

      >  Data analysis

    Collected data were converted for coding and analysis with SPSS statistical software version 12.0 (Statistical Product and Service Solutions, Inc., Chicago, IL, USA) for Windows. Some coding data were also re-coded on an ordinal scale. Frequency, significant difference, and correlation analyses were performed on the coded data using SPSS statistical software version 12.0. Means and standard error (SE) were used to summarize continuous outcome variables. Paired t-tests were used to examine differences in pre-test and posttest scores. Statistical significance was set at the conventional α< 0.05 level.

    Results

      >  Individual analysis for the psychological scale

    The effects of a total of 15 participants completed the insectmediated healthcare program were analyzed separately for the individual and psychological scale. Significant differences and correlations were found according to the individual participants’ planning, subjective quality of life, self-reported depression and self-worth, respectively (Fig. 1). The results showed that the insect-mediated healthcare program increased 12 participants in planning, 7 participants in subjective quality of life, and 9 participants in self-worth, respectively. In particular, the individual’ mean scores for planning in most adolescents increased approximately 87% (Fig. 1A). However, self-reported depression of adolescent was not influenced by the insectmediated healthcare program (Fig. 1C).

      >  Effects of the insect-mediated healthcare program

    The overall result of this study indicated that adolescent who received an insect-mediated healthcare program once showed improvements in their planning, subjective quality of life, and self-worth (Fig. 2). In particular, the mean scores for planning increased from 24.2 (SD 0.957) at baseline to 31.27 (SD 1.08), and the mean scores for subjective quality of life increased from 29.8 (SD 1.903) at baseline to 36 (SD 2.042), and the mean scores for self-worth increased from 36.27 (SD 1.652) at baseline to 45.87 (SD 1.352) at week 10. According to the analytical results of this study, insect-mediated healthcare program significantly improved the emotional health of adolescents.

    Additionally, we analyzed the effects of program according to the gender. The result showed that planning and self-worth increased in male (Fig. 3A), and planning and subjective quality of life increased in female (Fig. 3B). In particular, the mean scores for planning increased from 24.58 (0.996) at baseline to 30.92 (SD 1.018) and the self-worth increased from 36.08 (SD 1.540) at baseline to 46.08 (SD 1.464), respectively, in male. In female, the mean scores for planning increased from 22.33 (SD 2.603) at baseline to 30.67 (SD 1.333).

    Discussion

    Adolescence is characterized by physical maturation of the brain and body, giving rise to intense psychological and physical changes. These risen emotional experiences have been argued to be the basis of mental problems. Most Korean adolescents are enormously busy with non-stop curricular studies every day. They are received many study stresses. These are the regions of requirement of an appropriate mental healthcare program for adolescents.

    In this study, the treatment of an insect-mediated mental healthcare program to adolescents was associated with improvements in mental health indices. This program was performed including the rearing and observing the dynastid beetle, the silkworm, and tiger swallowtail during the experimental period. The participants showed a keen interest in living insects and often asked the program staff about their ecology. These responses may be related significantly to the improvements in participants’ emotional health.

    An insect-mediated healthcare program would be help adolescents establish communications, express thoughts and feelings, and solve their academic stress. Actually, we expected that the hands-on experience of insect rearing and insect related plays may provide specific interactions to participants with the insects. Numerous studies reported that animals and pets influenced the positive emotion for participants in therapy with many mental diseases (Barker et al., 2003; Dimitrijevic 2009; Cirulli et al., 2011).

    This study suggests that insects have ability to catalyze social interactions and to create a more relaxed environment conducive to treating planning, subjective quality of life, and self-worth, a requirement necessary for the therapeutic process. However, the report related with our study is still scarce and further research is required to optimize the insect-mediated healthcare programs.

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  • [Table 1.] Insect-mediated mental healthcare program
    Insect-mediated mental healthcare program
  • [Fig. 1.] Pre- and post-test mean score differences for emotional health in adolescents undergoing an insect-mediated healthcare program according to variable. A, planning; B, subjective quality of life; C, self-reported depression; D, self-worth. Significant differences (α<0.05) are marked with asterisks (*) on the graph.
    Pre- and post-test mean score differences for emotional health in adolescents undergoing an insect-mediated healthcare program according to variable. A, planning; B, subjective quality of life; C, self-reported depression; D, self-worth. Significant differences (α<0.05) are marked with asterisks (*) on the graph.
  • [Fig. 2.] Overall pre- and post-test mean score differences in the emotional health of adolescents undergoing an insect-mediated healthcare program. Significant differences (α <0.05) are marked with asterisks (*) on the graph.
    Overall pre- and post-test mean score differences in the emotional health of adolescents undergoing an insect-mediated healthcare program. Significant differences (α <0.05) are marked with asterisks (*) on the graph.
  • [Fig. 3.] Pre- and post-test mean score differences for emotional health in adolescents undergoing an insect-mediated healthcare program according to male (A) and female (B). Significant differences (α<0.05) are marked with asterisks (*) on the graph.
    Pre- and post-test mean score differences for emotional health in adolescents undergoing an insect-mediated healthcare program according to male (A) and female (B). Significant differences (α<0.05) are marked with asterisks (*) on the graph.