Psychol Med. 2024 May 31:1-8. doi: 10.1017/S0033291724001090. Online ahead of print.


BACKGROUND: Depression is a common mental health disorder that often starts during adolescence, with potentially important future consequences including ‘Not in Education, Employment or Training’ (NEET) status.

METHODS: We took a structured life course modeling approach to examine how depressive symptoms during adolescence might be associated with later NEET status, using a high-quality longitudinal data resource. We considered four plausible life course models: (1) an early adolescent sensitive period model where depressive symptoms in early adolescence are more associated with later NEET status relative to exposure at other stages; (2) a mid adolescent sensitive period model where depressive symptoms during the transition from compulsory education to adult life might be more deleterious regarding NEET status; (3) a late adolescent sensitive period model, meaning that depressive symptoms around the time when most adults have completed their education and started their careers are the most strongly associated with NEET status; and (4) an accumulation of risk model which highlights the importance of chronicity of symptoms.

RESULTS: Our analysis sample included participants with full information on NEET status (N = 3951), and the results supported the accumulation of risk model, showing that the odds of NEET increase by 1.015 (95% CI 1.012-1.019) for an increase of 1 unit in depression at any age between 11 and 24 years.

CONCLUSIONS: Given the adverse implications of NEET status, our results emphasize the importance of supporting mental health during adolescence and early adulthood, as well as considering specific needs of young people with re-occurring depressed mood.

PMID:38818779 | DOI:10.1017/S0033291724001090