Emotional Distress in Teens Linked to Employment Prospects
4 April 2016 at 8:18 pm
Suffering from emotional problems in adolescence is an important risk factor for future joblessness, irrespective of socio-economic background, according to a new UK report.
Academics at the University of Stirling in the UK examined the employment patterns of over 7,000 Americans over a 12 year period and found what they said was “clear evidence that distressed adolescents – who tend to feel nervous or depressed rather than calm or happy – subsequently experienced higher levels of joblessness in early adulthood”.
According to the report adolescents who were highly distressed at ages 16 to 20 were 32 per cent more likely to be unemployed and 26 per cent more likely to be unemployed or out of the workforce in early adulthood.
“The trends held, even when comparing distressed to non-distressed siblings, suggesting that emotional problems carry a heavy penalty even among brothers and sisters from the same background,” the report said.
The study also revealed that the adverse impact of psychological distress on job prospects grew in the years following the 2007 – 2009 recession where those with a history of distress experienced a pronounced rise in joblessness.
Mark Egan of the Behavioural Science Centre at the University of Stirling said the findings provided strong evidence that distressed adolescents were vulnerable to unemployment and economic benefits could be gained by treating mental health issues in early life.
“Investing in childhood and adolescent mental health services could have economic benefits including reducing population-level unemployment. Widening access to effective treatments for early life distress could lead to large economic returns by helping individuals into employment and increasing their lifetime earnings,” Egan said.
The study, conducted by Mark Egan, Dr Michael Daly and Professor Liam Delaney of the University of Stirling, used data from over 7,000 American adults, drawn from the National Longitudinal Study of Youth 1997, born in 1980 – 1984.
The study was funded by the Economic and Social Research Council, Skills Development Scotland, and the European Commission Marie Curie Initiative.
The paper is available to download from the journal Social Science & Medicine.