It is important within public health goals to promote adolescents’ mental health and to reduce socioeconomic inequalities in mental health. Among adults there are indications that the socioeconomic pattern of low positive mental health (PMH) differs from the socioeconomic pattern of high PMH. Knowledge regarding the social epidemiology of PMH among young people is lacking. The purpose of this paper is to examine the socioeconomic patterning of aspects of low and high PMH among adolescents.
The Health Behaviour in School-aged Children Methodology Development Study 2012 provided data on 3,670 adolescents aged 11-15 in two municipalities in Denmark. Socioeconomic differences in aspects of low and high PMH (self-esteem, social competence and self-efficacy) were investigated by calculating sex-specific prevalence of PMH in socioeconomic groups measured by parents’ occupational social class. Using multi-level logistic regression analyses, odds ratios for low and high PMH compared to moderate PMH were estimated.
In age-adjusted analyses there seemed to be a graded relationship with increasing odds for low PMH with decreasing socioeconomic position, but no indication of a socioeconomic patterning of high PMH. The prevalence of high self-esteem and high self-efficacy was higher among boys than girls. High social competence and high self-efficacy increased with age.
Public health research has primarily focused on risk factors and mental health problems. Research highlighting more detailed aspects of PMH is needed.
The socioeconomic pattern of high PMH may be different from the socioeconomic pattern of low PMH.
The authors would like to thank all participants in HBSC-MDS 2012. We would also like to thank the Mental Health Research Group, National Institute of Public Health, University of Southern Denmark, for valuable discussions and reflections during the development and validation of the measures of positive mental health.
This study was funded by the Nordea Foundation (02-2011-0122). The funders have had no influence on study design, data collection, analyses, interpretation of results or writing of the manuscript.
Nielsen, L., Stewart-Brown, S., Vinther-Larsen, M., Meilstrup, C., Holstein, B. and Koushede, V. (2016), "High and low levels of positive mental health: are there socioeconomic differences among adolescents?", Journal of Public Mental Health, Vol. 15 No. 1, pp. 37-49. https://doi.org/10.1108/JPMH-10-2014-0041Download as .RIS
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