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Portrait Mimmi Barmark. Photo: Emma Lord.

Mimmi Barmark

Senior Lecturer | Director of Studies

Portrait Mimmi Barmark. Photo: Emma Lord.

Mental health and academic performance: a study on selection and causation effects from childhood to early adulthood

Author

  • Sara Agnafors
  • Mimmi Barmark
  • Gunilla Sydsjö

Summary, in English

Purpose
An inverse relationship between mental health and academic achievement is a well-known phenomenon in the scientific literature. However, how and when this association develops is not fully understood and there is a lack of longitudinal, population-based studies on young children. Early intervention is important if associations are to be found already during childhood. The aim of the present study was to investigate the development of the association between mental health and academic performance during different developmental periods of childhood and adolescence.

Methods
Data from a longitudinal birth cohort study of 1700 children were used. Child mental health was assessed through mother’s reports at age 3, and self-reports at age 12 and 20. Academic performance was assessed through teacher reports on educational results at age 12 and final grades from compulsory school (age 15–16) and upper secondary school (age 18–19). The association between mental health and academic performance was assessed through regression models.

Results
The results indicate that social selection mechanisms are present in all three periods studied. Behavioral and emotional problems at age 3 were associated with performing below grade at age 12. Similarly, mental health problems at age 12 were associated with lack of complete final grades from compulsory school and non-eligibility to higher education. Academic performance at ages 15 and 19 did not increase the risk for mental health problems at age 20.

Conclusion
Mental health problems in early childhood and adolescence increase the risk for poor academic performance, indicating the need for awareness and treatment to provide fair opportunities to education.

Department/s

  • Sociology

Publishing year

2021

Language

English

Pages

857-866

Publication/Series

Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology

Issue

56

Document type

Journal article

Publisher

Steinkopff

Topic

  • Sociology (excluding Social Work, Social Psychology and Social Anthropology)
  • Psychiatry

Status

Published

ISBN/ISSN/Other

  • ISSN: 0933-7954