A birth cohort study of people born in Finland in 1987 has found that adolescents who had received a mental health disorder diagnosis were often excluded from the labour market and education as young adults. This particularly applied to adolescents who had been diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder or psychosis.
The findings of the study were published in 'The British Journal of Psychiatry'.
Almost 11 per cent of adolescents who had received a psychiatric diagnosis were excluded from education and the labour market for at least five years in their early adulthood. For other adolescents, this number was slightly under three per cent. The results have highlighted 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 the development of evidence-based treatment and rehabilitation," said Adolescent Psychiatrist and Doctoral Candidate Ida Ringbom from the Research Centre for Child Psychiatry at the University of Turku.
The results are concerning because they highlight the link between mental health disorders and long-term exclusion from education and the labour 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 the labour 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 labour market," said 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," added Gyllenberg.
The research was conducted at the Research Centre for Child Psychiatry as a part of the INVEST flagship programme 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 eg the University of Turku, Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare, Helsinki University Hospital, and Itla Children's Foundation.