Mental health groups in high school students and later school dropout: A latent class and register-based follow-up analysis of the Danish National Youth Study

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Background: Mental health represents an important public health issue, and mental health problems have been linked to school dropout. This study aimed to identify mental health groups of high school students using both positive and negative aspects of mental health and to examine whether these mental health groups longitudinally predict school dropout.
Methods: We conducted latent class analysis using the Danish National Youth Study 2014 (n=60,526; mean 17.9 years) to identify clustering of mental health (11 items covering positive and negative aspects of emotional wellbeing and functioning in daily life), separately by sex. The relationship with subsequent school dropout was examined
using logistic regression models, adjusted for age, ethnicity and socioeconomic status. Information on dropout status was obtained through educational registers. Results: School dropout rates was highest among frst-year students. Four mental health groups were identifed: Flourishing (females: 38%, males: 55%), moderate mental health (females: 15%, males: 20%), emotionally challenged
(females: 28%, males: 15%) and languishing (females: 19%, males: 10%). Compared to the fourishing group, adjusted odds ratio (AOR) for dropout were 3.43 (95% CI: 2.98, 3.95), 1.73 (95% CI: 1.45, 2.06) and 1.76 (95% CI: 1.52, 2.04) in the languishing, moderate mentally healthy and emotional challenged females. Results in males were comparable.
Conclusions: Mental health in high school students cluster together in four categories among both males and females. Students who are languishing, emotionally challenged or moderate mentally healthy have about 1.5-fold
to threefold higher risk of dropping out of high school compared with fourishing students. Universal mental health interventions may be a promising strategy, particularly in the frst year of high school where most students drop out
of school.
Original languageEnglish
Article number122
JournalBMC Psychology
Issue number1
Number of pages11
Publication statusPublished - 2021

    Research areas

  • Faculty of Social Sciences - Mental health, School dropout, High school students, Adolescence, Denmark, Latent class analysis

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