The following is a summary of “A Longitudinal Study of Income Inequality and Mental Health Among Canadian Secondary School Students: Results From the Cannabis, Obesity, Mental Health, Physical Activity, Alcohol, Smoking, and Sedentary Behavior Study (2016–2019),” published in the July 2023 issue of the Adolescent health by Benny et al.
Depression and anxiety disorders among adolescents pose significant public health concerns. The findings suggest an association between income inequality and an elevated risk of depression and anxiety in adolescents. However, it is essential to note that this relationship has not been examined over an extended period. Researcher’s objective is to measure the longitudinal correlation between income inequality and the prevalence of depression and anxiety among adolescents in Canada. They utilized longitudinal data from 21,141 participants across three waves (2016/17–2018/19) of the Cannabis, Obesity, Mental Health, Physical Activity, Alcohol, Smoking, and Sedentary Behavior (COMPASS) study conducted in schools.
Multilevel modeling was employed to evaluate the correlation between income inequality at the census division (CD) level and symptoms of depression and anxiety, as well as the likelihood of experiencing depression and anxiety symptoms over some time. In the context of clinical data, the average Gini coefficient observed across the cohort was 0.37, with a range of 0.30 to 0.46. Participating in educational institutions located in areas with elevated levels of income inequality exhibited a positive correlation with high depressive scores (ß = 0.08; 95% confidence interval [CI] = 0.02, 0.14) and an escalated likelihood of experiencing depression (odds ratio = 1.55, 95% CI = 1.06, 2.28) over some time. No significant correlation was observed between income inequality and the presence of anxiety symptoms or the occurrence of anxiety over time.
Further examinations revealed a correlation between income inequality and increased depressive scores in females (ß = 0.10; 95% CI = 0.01, 0.18) and males (ß = 0.08, 95% CI = 0.01, 0.15). Additionally, income inequality was associated with higher anxiety scores in females (ß = 0.13, 95% CI = 0.04, 0.22) but not in males (ß = −0.01, 95% CI = −0.09, 0.06). The results of this study revealed a correlation between income inequality and the development of depression among adolescents over some time. This study elucidates crucial aspects of intervention for preventing psychiatric disorders in adolescents.