Health consequences of young people not in employment, education or training: a 20 year longitudinal analysis

Zhiqiang Feng, University of Edinburgh
Kevin Ralston, University of Edinburgh
Dawn Everington, University of Edinburgh
Chris Dibben, University of Edinburgh
Elspeth Graham, University of St Andrews

This paper investigates whether experiences of young people who are not in employment, education or training (NEET) are associated with adverse long-term outcomes in mental health. We used the Scottish Longitudinal Study (SLS), which collates information from the 1991, 2001, and 2011 censuses as well as from vital events, for a 5.3% representative sample of the Scottish population. Linked health data such as hospital admissions and prescribing in general practice are also available. We followed around 10,000 young people who were aged 16-19 in 1991 up to 2012. We explored whether NEET young people in 1991 displayed higher risks of poor mental health in the follow-up period. Poor mental health is measured by prescription of anti-depressant or anti-anxiety medicine. We used descriptive and modelling approaches in our analysis. Confounders include a number of individual socioeconomic characteristics and local area characteristics in the models. Our research found that over 30% have been prescribed with anti-depressant and anti-anxiety drugs. The NEET status in 1991 appears to be associated with poor mental health with OR of 1.70 (95% CI: 1.46 – 1.99). We also found that young people who were out of education and employment in both 1991 and 2001 had the highest risk of depression and anxiety suggesting a cumulative effect. Policy intervention is necessary in assisting NEET young people to re-engage in education or employment.

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Presented in Session 39: Employment and well-being