Mental Health Inequalities Among Youth: The Importance of the Quality of the School Environment

Thursday, 14 July 2016: 11:25
Location: Hörsaal 18 (Juridicum)
Oral Presentation
Marie-Christine BRAULT, Universite du Quebec a Chicoutimi, Canada
Educational attainment stands among the principal social determinant of health. However, this traditional indicator of education is not relevant for young people as they haven’t yet reached their highest level of schooling. Other educational indicators may thus be best suitable for them, and would at the same time give a more complete picture of the complex relationship existing between health and education.

This presentation aims at discussing school environment indicators that could be taken into account when studying mental health problems and inequalities in youth. Researches in sociology of education have shown that each school is unique and distinct from one another, through notably their structural elements (social composition, physical environment, etc.) as well as their organizational processes (values, culture, climate, leadership, etc.). Schools create inequalities on various outcomes, including mental health. Between-school differences were already observed with regards to emotional health, suicide and psychiatric diagnoses. As youth spend at least “fifteen thousand hours” of their life in school, it is important to understand if, how and which element of school environment can impact their health in general and mental health specifically. Examples of useful school environment indicators will be presented in association with ADHD, depression and body satisfaction.