Mental health disorders in adolescents linked to long-term exclusion from education, labor market

Adolescents who had received a mental health disorder diagnosis were often excluded from the labor market and education as young adults. This particularly applied to adolescents who had been diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder or psychosis. The results were found out in a birth cohort study of people born in Finland in 1987. The study was published on 6 October in British Journal of Psychiatry.

Almost eleven percent of adolescents who had received a psychiatric diagnosis were excluded from education and labor market for at least five years in their early adulthood. For other adolescents, this number was slightly under three percent.

The results highlight the importance of the treatment and rehabilitation of people with mental health disorders in the prevention of adolescents' social exclusion.

To help prevent the social exclusion of adolescents, their treatment and rehabilitation require more resources than are currently being used as well as development of evidence-based treatment and rehabilitation."

Ida Ringbom, Adolescent Psychiatrist and Doctoral Candidate,  Research Centre for Child Psychiatry, University of Turku

The results are concerning because they highlight the link between mental health disorders and long-term exclusion from education and labor market. In the study, long-term exclusion was defined as a period spent outside education or paid employment lasting a minimum of five years. The link was particularly strong with those teenagers who had not completed their upper secondary education and who had been diagnosed with a mental health disorder. Almost half of these teenagers who had experienced psychosis and almost three quarters of teenagers who had been diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder experienced long-term exclusion from education and labor market in their early adulthood.

– Vocational rehabilitation and tight collaboration between psychiatry and social services are important for enabling adolescents suffering from mental health problems to access the labor market, says Assistant Professor David Gyllenberg who led the study.

– Adolescents who have not completed their upper secondary education require more targeted support because their risk of becoming socially excluded is particularly high.

The research was conducted at the Research Centre for Child Psychiatry as a part of the INVEST flagship program for the study of inequality, interventions, and the welfare state. A joint project of the University of Turku and Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare and funded by the Academy of Finland, INVEST focuses on reducing social inequality and reforming the welfare state. Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare is responsible for the national birth cohort of 1987. The research group included researchers from e.g. the University of Turku, Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare, Helsinki University Hospital, and Itla Children's Foundation.


University of Turku

Journal reference:

Ringbom, I., et al. (2021) Psychiatric disorders diagnosed in adolescence and subsequent long-term exclusion from education, employment or training: Longitudinal national birth cohort study. The British Journal of Psychiatry.


The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News Medical.
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