New Research Suggests That Teens Who Have Classmates Diagnosed With Mental Health Issues During High School May Face An Increased Risk Of Experiencing Similar Challenges In The Future

Jose Calsina - - illustrative purposes only, not the actual people

Upon reaching adolescence, it’s normal for teens to have an unclear sense of self – since this period of development is marked by a lot of change and identity exploration.

That’s why it’s common for teens to adopt the mannerisms, slang, and attitudes of their friends or classmates.

But, a new study conducted by researchers in Finland revealed that mental health disorders might also spread within social groups. So, the research suggests a possible link between adolescent social networks and the later development of psychological problems.

More specifically, the study’s findings indicate that teens who have classmates diagnosed with mental health issues during high school may face an increased risk of experiencing similar challenges in the future.

The study’s authors, comprised of researchers from the University of Helsinki and other European institutions, examined the mental health trajectories of over 700,000 Finnish citizens born between 1985 and 1997 using a comprehensive dataset.

By cross-referencing detailed school records with nationwide health registries, the researchers sought to explore the link between peer relationships and psychological well-being.

The study found that people with one or more ninth-grade classmates who received a mental disorder diagnosis faced a slightly increased risk of receiving a mental disorder diagnosis themselves in the years after graduation. This relationship also persisted even after adjusting for various factors, including parental mental health history, school characteristics, and socioeconomic status.

The findings also revealed that the risk was highest during the first year after being exposed to a classmate diagnosed with a mental disorder. There was a 9% increase in risk for individuals with one such peer; meanwhile, there was an 18% increase for those with multiple diagnosed classmates.

This relationship was especially robust for anxiety disorders, mood disorders, and eating disorders.

Jose Calsina – – illustrative purposes only, not the actual people

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