Examining factors relating to adolescent mental health

Status: Closed

The background

Youth mental health is recognised as a global concern due to prevalence rates of 20-25% for mental health disorders in young people. It is important to identify factors contributing to poor youth mental health and achievement to develop and deliver evidence-based interventions in Northern Ireland. 

Northern Ireland currently lacks a comprehensive understanding of how socio-economic status (SES) and familial factors impact the mental and physical wellbeing of its youth population. Northern Irish youths have previously been sampled in the Health Behaviours in School-Aged Children (HBSC) study to assess physical and mental wellbeing, but have not been sampled since 1998. 

This currently leaves a 20-year gap in understanding of how SES and family circumstances impact adolescent wellbeing in Northern Ireland. This is a considerable gap in understanding due to socio-economic and societal changes taking place in Northern Ireland since 1998; these include increased unemployment and an increase in divorce rates. 

The aim & key questions

The aim of this study will be to explore the relationship between SES, housing and the family unit on adolescent wellbeing in Northern Ireland. This analysis can be achieved by linking Census data with further datasets via data linkage strategies possible through ADR Northern Ireland. This study will examine:

  1. Socio-economic determinants of mental illness among adolescents.
  2. Health and social determinants for educational and occupational outcomes among adolescents. 

The data

The project will access the following administrative datasets:

  • CENW: 2011 Wales
  • WLGP: Primary care data including prescriptions (~80% of GP practices in Wales contribute to this dataset)
  • LACW: Looked after children in Wales
  • OPDW: Outpatients appointment
  • OPRD: Outpatient referrals
  • CAFCASS Wales: Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service Wales data
  • PEDW: Inpatient admissions
  • HESA: Higher Education Statistics Agency Student Data
  • EDUC: Schools/education datasets
  • SMDS: Substance misuse

The potential

This project has significance for child and adolescent mental health service provision. It will also have cross-cutting interest for several other departments such as health, education and justice.

Project details

Project lead: Professor Gerard Leavey, Ulster University (ADR Northern Ireland)

Duration: Completed in 2024

Contact: ADRC NI office

Funding: This project was funded by ADR Northern Ireland via its core grant from the Economic & Social Research Council (ESRC).

Categories: Research using linked data, ADR Northern Ireland, Children & young people, Health & wellbeing, Housing & communities, Inequality & social inclusion

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