Research group for public mental health

Social inequality in adolescent mental health in a life course perspective

Main content

While research on health inequality trends is starting to accumulate, little is known about the trends in the adolescent population. This period is pivotal in the development of various psychological challenges and can potentially set the stage for development of health inequalities later in life. To fill the knowledge gap, the study aims to assess societal trends in mental health inequalities among adolescents and develop more accurate methods for measuring socioeconomic status among this group.

The knowledge development concerning adolescents and social inequality rely on measurement methods. Progress in this area has been significantly hampered by the insufficient quality of the measurement methods available. When researching social inequalities related to mental health, we rely on quantitative indicators for family wealth. Preferred indicators are family income and consumption expenses. However, adolescents may have difficulty providing the correct information about parents income. Therefore, when studies include self-reporting of adolescents without parents as informants, there is a need for tailored indicators. By examining the quality of indicators of socioeconomic status in adolescent populations, and by developing new measures tailored to the Nordic situation, the study contributes with methodological development that will increase the validity in health inequality research.

The study is part of the project “LONG/TRENDS” and will be focusing on WP3: Mental health and social inequality; national and Nordic trends; measurement quality and validity.  Data stem from the health behaviour surveys among school pupils (HEVAS).