The mental health of unemployed Brussels youth: the role of social and material resources
In a newly published article in Archives of Public Health, Kelly Huegaerts and colleagues investigated the evolution of the mental health gap between employed and unemployed youth and the association of material and social resources with mental health of youth entering the labour market in the Brussels Capital Region.
Background: In the aftermath of the 2008 Great Recession, youth unemployment rates in the Brussels Capital Region (BCR) increased. The aim of this study is firstly to investigate the evolution of the mental health gap between employed and unemployed youth and secondly to examine the association of material and social resources with mental health of youth entering the labour market in the BCR.
Methods: Two data sources are used to answer the research questions: the Belgian Health Interview Survey (HIS) data (1997 to 2013; 18- to 29-year-olds; N = 5,562), and the authors’ own primary data collection among Brussels youth in the transition from education to employment (2015; 18- to 29-year-olds; N = 1,151; BCR-sample). Prevalence ratios, bivariate and multivariate logistic regression analyses are used to explore mental distress and possible mental disorder amongst this particular group of youth.
Results: The results show a consistent tendency towards increasing mental health problems for unemployed, compared to employed youth in the 1997–2013 period in the three Belgian Regions. Both social support and the living arrangements of men are related to mental distress and a possible mental disorder. The perception of a poor financial situation is related to a possible mental disorder. Our study also found that escape-avoidance behaviour is important in explaining both adverse mental health outcomes amongst women.
Conclusions: This study suggests that the mental health gap between employed and unemployed youth increases and demonstrates the importance of material and social resources for the mental health of unemployed youth. These results can contribute to discussions on unemployment policies targeting vulnerable youth.
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