BACKGROUND: Little is known about the timing and duration of mental health problems (MHPs) on young adults' labour market participation (LMP). This life-course study aims to examine whether and how the timing and duration of MHPs between childhood and young adulthood are associated with LMP in young adulthood.
METHODS: Logistic regression analyses were performed with data from the Tracking Adolescents' Individual Lives Survey (TRAILS), a Dutch prospective cohort study with 15-year follow-up (N=874). Internalising and externalising problems were measured by the Youth/Adult Self-Report at ages 11, 13, 16, 19 and 22. Labour market participation (having a paid job yes/no) was assessed at age 26.
RESULTS: Internalising problems at all ages and externalising problems at age 13, 19 and 22 were associated with an increased risk of not having a paid job (internalising problems ORs ranging from 2.24, 95% CI 1.02 to 4.90 at age 11 to OR 6.58, CI 3.14 to 13.80 at age 22; externalising problems ORs from 2.84, CI 1.11 to 7.27 at age 13 to OR 6.36, CI 2.30 to 17.56 at age 22). Especially a long duration of internalising problems increased the risk of not having a paid job in young adulthood.
CONCLUSION: The duration of MHPs during childhood and adolescence is strongly associated with not having paid work in young adulthood. This emphasises the necessity of applying a life-course perspective when investigating the effect of MHPs on LMP. Early monitoring, mental healthcare and the (early) provision of employment support may improve young adult's participation in the labour market.