Correlates of mental health in students aged 15-24 years by gender


Mental health of students is a growing public health concern; however, little is known of the prevalence of different mental health issues or of its correlates. The purpose of this exploratory analysis was to identify important correlates of a diverse range of mental health outcomes by gender. Data from the Canadian Community Health Survey Mental Health Cycle (2013) were used for analyses. Only adults aged 15-24 years of age who self-reported being a current student were included (n=1086 for males; n=1304 for females). Five outcome variables were created to represent a range of mental health issues. These were consulted a professional, consulted a non-professional, has a diagnosed disorder (bipolar, depression or general anxiety disorder), has poor psychosocial health (perceived health, perceived mental health and satisfaction with life) and does not have positive mental health.  Correlates assessed were age, income, immigration status, ethnicity, physical activity, sleep and household size. Chi-squares and adjusted logistic regression models were conducted. Results indicated that there were significant gender differences for income, ethnicity, physical activity and sleep. Females also had a significantly higher prevalence of consultations with professionals (14.8% vs. 7.6% in males), consultations with non-professionals (33.4% vs. 20.6% in males), diagnosed disorders (15.4% vs. 8.7% in males) and poor psychosocial health (47.3% vs. 41.4% in males). Gender differences were also noted in the adjusted regressions such that males were less likely than females to consult a professional (OR: 0.55, CI: 0.42-0.74), consult a non-professional (OR: 0.55, CI: 0.46-0.67) or have a diagnosed disorder (OR: 0.63, CI: 0.48-0.84). Sleep was consistently associated with all five mental health outcomes, while physical activity was not associated with either of consultations with a non-professional or diagnosed disorder. It is clear from these data that gender and health behaviours are important for mental health in students aged 15-24 years.

Acknowledgments: NA