Mental health during adolescence affects adult life, study finds

Mental health during adolescence affects adult life, study finds


A recent British study indicates that our mental health in adolescence and childhood influences certain biomarkers. These are markers for adult life as well as life expectancy.

Harmful consequences
Mental health problems in childhood and adolescence have negative consequences later in life. Researchers at the University of London (United Kingdom) began with this observation as part of their study published in the Journal of American Medicine Association on September 30, 2020. The consequences are multiple: psychological distress, family instability, low-level education, unemployment, and tendencies to commit crimes.

Nevertheless, several parameters remain relatively little studied, such as the impact of poor mental health on biological health in adulthood. Links have already been established, in particular with low sports participation, heavy alcohol and tobacco consumption, and significant socio-economic adversity. In terms of mortality, links exist with suicide, overdoses, involuntary injuries or even homicides.

The study in question concerns the UK National Child Development Cohort. Originally, this included 17,415 individuals born in 1958. Parents and teachers rated their mental health using the Rutter A scale. It is a tool whose purpose is to quantitatively measure the difficulties and behaviors of children and adolescents.

A plausible causality
After the evaluations, the researchers put forward four groups. The first involved individuals who had no conduct or emotional disturbance at all stages of their childhood and adolescence. At the level of group II, we have individuals who have had emotional and especially driving problems from the age of 16. Members of Group III are volunteers who had emotional and behavioral problems during childhood with improvement thereafter. As for the last group, we are talking about people who have had problems at all stages of their childhood and adolescence.

According to the researchers, the group I only served as a benchmark. The results indicate that group II and IV members have less favorable biomarkers for good health in adulthood. This is accompanied by a higher risk of premature death. Several factors are added according to the researchers, such as sex, birth weight, maternal smoking during pregnancy, maternal age, breastfeeding, or the body mass index.

It should be noted that these results do not allow a firm causal link to be established. Indeed, the study concerns only one country and it is Western. However, the authors believe that the causal link is plausible and generalizable to other cohorts. In any case, this study seems to say that by intervening more effectively in the mental health of young people, it would be possible to improve their lives in adulthood.