Associations between adolescent psychosocial factors and disengagement from education and employment in young adulthood among individuals with common mental health problems
Tayfur, Sumeyra N.
Singh Roy, Anusua
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Tayfur, S.N., Prior, S., Singh Roy, A.S., Maciver, D., Forsyth, K. and Irvine-Fitzpatrick, L. (2022) ‘Associations between adolescent psychosocial factors and disengagement from education and employment in young adulthood among individuals with common mental health problems’, Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 51, pp. 1397-1408.
Transition to adulthood can be a challenging developmental task for adolescents with common mental health problems and is linked to adverse outcomes such as ‘not in education, employment or training’ (NEET). This study investigated longitudinal associations between adolescent psychosocial factors (e.g., self-esteem, aspirations, bullying, physical activity) and later NEET status among individuals with common mental health problems (i.e., depression and anxiety). A secondary data analysis of the Next Steps cohort study was completed using waves 2 and 8. Psychosocial factors, mental health, and background characteristics were captured when participants were aged 15–16 years (wave 2) while still in compulsory education. The 12-item General Health Questionnaire was used to identify adolescents with common mental health problems. The study population consisted of 2224 participants (females 66.8%) of which 1473 (66.2%) were aged 15 years and 751 (33.8%) were aged 16 years in wave 2. The outcome was NEET status at ages 25–26 years (wave 8). The results showed that after adjusting for background characteristics, adolescent self-esteem, locus of control, bullying, physical activity, job aspirations, and attitudes to school predicted NEET status. Educational aspirations, substance use, and behavioural problems were not significantly associated with NEET status. These findings provide new insights into the role of adolescent psychosocial factors in the context of education and employment outcomes for youth at risk and highlight the necessity of targeted mental health support to improve life chances.