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Adolescent mental health and behavioural predictors of being NEET: a prospective study of young adults not in employment, education, or training

  • L. Rodwell (a1) (a2), H. Romaniuk (a1) (a2) (a3), W. Nilsen (a4) (a5), J. B. Carlin (a1) (a2), K. J. Lee (a1) (a2) and G. C. Patton (a2) (a3)...
Abstract
Background

Young adults who are not in employment, education, or training (NEET) are at risk of long-term economic disadvantage and social exclusion. Knowledge about risk factors for being NEET largely comes from cross-sectional studies of vulnerable individuals. Using data collected over a 10-year period, we examined adolescent predictors of being NEET in young adulthood.

Methods

We used data on 1938 participants from the Victorian Adolescent Health Cohort Study, a community-based longitudinal study of adolescents in Victoria, Australia. Associations between common mental disorders, disruptive behaviour, cannabis use and drinking behaviour in adolescence, and NEET status at two waves of follow-up in young adulthood (mean ages of 20.7 and 24.1 years) were investigated using logistic regression, with generalised estimating equations used to account for the repeated outcome measure.

Results

Overall, 8.5% of the participants were NEET at age 20.7 years and 8.2% at 24.1 years. After adjusting for potential confounders, we found evidence of increased risk of being NEET among frequent adolescent cannabis users [adjusted odds ratio (ORadj) = 1.74; 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.10–2.75] and those who reported repeated disruptive behaviours (ORadj = 1.71; 95% CI 1.15–2.55) or persistent common mental disorders in adolescence (ORadj = 1.60; 95% CI 1.07–2.40). Similar associations were present when participants with children were included in the same category as those in employment, education, or training.

Conclusions

Young people with an early onset of mental health and behavioural problems are at risk of failing to make the transition from school to employment. This finding reinforces the importance of integrated employment and mental health support programmes.

Copyright
Corresponding author
*Address for correspondence: L. Rodwell, Clinical Epidemiology and Biostatistics Unit, Murdoch Childrens Research Institute, Parkville, VIC, 3052, Australia. (Email: laura.rodw@gmail.com)
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