Session 3 abstracts

Welcome to session 3 on day 1 (13:40 – 14:40)




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Track 1 - Symposium: Mental health inequalities in adolescents and young adults: evidence from longitudinal population surveys

Chair: Jayati Das Munshi, King’s College London

Acceleration of the generational inequalities in mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic: evidence from five UK cohorts
Study: Millennium Cohort Study

Darío Moreno-Agostino, UCL Centre for Longitudinal Studies

We investigated generational inequalities in anxiety and depressive symptomatology, loneliness, and life satisfaction throughout the first year of the pandemic. We used data from five British longitudinal cohorts representing generations born in 2000-2002, 1989-1990, 1970, 1958, and 1946, collected in May 2020, September-October 2020, and February-March 2021. Using multilevel growth curve models, we found that younger generations had worse levels in all outcomes throughout the study period. Depressive (and, to a lesser extent, anxiety) symptomatology levels observed in the youngest cohort at the start of the study period were worse than expected if pre-existing generational inequalities had not accelerated.


Inequalities in mental health, loneliness, and social support by sexual orientation among young adults during the COVID-19 pandemic: analyses from the UK Millennium Cohort Study
Study: Millennium Cohort Study

Laia Becares, King’s College London

Sexual minority young adults may have been particularly harmed by the consequences of lockdown, closure of educational institutions, and social distancing measures as they are likely to have been confined in households that may not be supportive of their sexual orientation. We analyse data from wave 1 of the MCS COVID-19 survey to examine inequalities by sexual orientation in the mental health, loneliness, and social support of sexual minority young adults. We find that sexual minority young adults had significantly lower levels of social support, and higher levels of psychological distress, anxiety, and loneliness when compared to heterosexual young adults.


Gender inequalities in depressive symptom trajectories among young people in London and Tokyo: a longitudinal cross-cohort study.
Studies: Millennium Cohort Study and Tokyo Teen Cohort

Gemma Knowles, King’s College London


Using longitudinal data in two representative adolescent cohorts, we tested the hypothesis that gender inequalities in depressive symptom trajectories are larger among young people in London than in Tokyo. We found strong evidence that, by around age 16, the disparity between boys and girls was around twice as large in London than in Tokyo – reflecting particularly steep declines in emotional health among girls in London – and we found no evidence to suggest that these differences were due to incomparable measurement.


Longitudinal relationships of help-seeking intention with depressive symptoms in adolescents – The study from Tokyo Teen Cohort
Study: Tokyo Teen Cohort

Mitsuhiro Miyashita, Tokyo Metropolitan Institute of Medical Science


Cross-sectional studies have shown an association of lower help-seeking intentions with greater depressive symptoms among adolescents. However, the direction of this association remains unclear. The aim of the present study is to investigate longitudinal association between them at the within-person level during adolescence using data from Tokyo Teen Cohort (N=3,171). Help-seeking intention and depressive symptoms were assessed at four time points. A random intercept cross-lagged panel model revealed that significant associations were consistently observed between antecedent depressive symptoms and subsequent lower help-seeking intentions across all time points. Proactive identification and intervention may facilitate the preventive management of depression in adolescents.

Track 2 - Socio-economic inequalities

Are socio-economic inequalities unequal across countries? Longitudinal analyses of the Millennium Cohort study and other national adolescent cohorts.
Studies: Millennium Cohort Study & Young Lives

Thomas Steare, University College London

Co-authors: Sara Evans-Lacko, Gemma Lewis, Kelly Rose-Clarke and Praveetha Patalay

Cross-national research has shown that socio-economic inequalities in adolescent mental health differ, even in countries with similar levels of wealth and development. Comparative research of adolescents however has primarily focused on a small number of countries in Europe and North America, and typically neglects regions where the vast majority of the world’s adolescents live. Results from parallel analyses of the Millennium Cohort Study (UK) and Young Lives (Ethiopia, India, Peru & Vietnam) will be presented and compared to identify the extent that socio-economic inequalities in adolescent mental health vary across different countries.

The relationship between perceived income inequality, adverse mental health and interpersonal difficulties in UK adolescents.
Study: Millennium Cohort Study

Blanca Piera Pi-Sunyer, University of Cambridge

Co-authors: Jack Andrews, Amy Orben, Lydia Speyer and Sarah-Jayne Blakemore

We used latent change score modeling on data from the UK Millennium Cohort Study (at ages 11 and 14; N = 12,995) to investigate whether the subjective experience of economic disadvantage among friends is associated with social difficulties and poorer mental health in early adolescence. At 11?years, young people who perceived themselves as belonging to poorer families than their friends reported worse well-being, self-esteem, internalizing problems, externalizing problems, and victimization at the same age. Victimization decreased from ages 11 to 14 to a greater extent for adolescents who perceived themselves as poorer than other adolescents.

Socio-economic inequalities in adolescent mental health in the UK: Multiple socio-economic indicators and reporter effects.
Study: Millennium Cohort Study

Matthew Hazell, University of Warwick

Co-authors: Emma Thornton, Hassan Haghparast-Bidgoli and Praveetha Patalay

We investigated the extent to which five SEP indicators (parent education, household income, household wealth, parent occupational status, and relative neighbourhood deprivation) predict adolescent internalising mental health (at ages 14 and 17 years) and how this varies as a function of reporter using the MCS. We found that income was the most predictive SEP indicator for adolescent internalising mental health. In addition, socio-economic inequalities in adolescent mental health vary by the reporter, with the magnitude of the health gradient being much larger when parents reported adolescent internalising symptoms, compared to when adolescents reported on themselves.


Clustering of adverse health and educational outcomes in adolescence following early childhood disadvantage
Study: Millennium Cohort Study

Aase Villadsen, UCL Centre for Longitudinal Studies


Using data from the Millennium Cohort Study, this paper examines family income in early childhood (age 0-5) in relation to outcomes at age 17 that are known to limit life chances (psychological distress, self-assessed ill health, smoking, obesity, and poor educational achievement). Results showed substantial inequality in experiencing each of these adverse outcomes based on childhood income, with the inequality being especially large when considering multiple adversities or clustering of outcomes. Using three hypothetical income shifting scenarios, this study shows that a very ambitious redistribution policy would be needed to substantially reduce multiple adolescent adversity.


Track 3 - Mental health

Intergenerational Transmission of Trauma: Psychosocial adjustment of the children of care leavers at age 17
Study: Millennium Cohort Study

Sam Parsons, UCL Centre for Longitudinal Studies

Co-authors: Ingrid Schoon and Emla Fitzsimons

There is persistent evidence showing that individuals who spend time in out-of-home care (OHC) are at a higher risk of adverse psycho-social outcomes in later life. There is however less knowledge if this disadvantage transfers to the second generation. This presentation draws on evidence from the UK Millennium Cohort Study (MCS) to examine the psycho-social adjustment of children of care leavers. The findings suggest that maternal OHC experience can cast a long shadow. Compared to the general population with no OHC experience children of care leavers reported higher levels of behavioural and mental health problems, including self-harm and suicide attempts.


Delay Discounting is both a Risk and Protective factor for Different Mental Problems in Adolescents
Study: Millennium Cohort Study

Yi Yang, University of Edinburgh

Co-authors: Xinxin Zhu, Bonnie Auyeung, Ingrid Obsuth and Aja Murray

To clarify the specific relations between the reward-seeking and future orientation mental process of delay discounting performance and different mental health problems, two bi-factor models were fitted to multi-informant mental health data from the MCS longitudinal study. A p-factor for general mental problems and a transdiagnostic protective role of time discounting were confirmed via bi-factor models using parent-reported data. Time discounting (future orientation) played a protective role for conduct and ADHD problems, whilst a risk role for emotional problems. Risk discounting (risk-taking preference) played a protective role for emotional and peer problems, but a risk role for conduct problems.


Within-person Cross-lagged relationships between children and parent’s mental health: Does poverty play a moderating role?
Study: Millennium Cohort Study

Zeliha Ezgi Saribaz, The University of Sheffield

Co-authors: Richard Rowe

It is known that parental and child mental health influence each other reciprocally. In a longitudinal “within-individual” study, the relation between parental distress and child internalising/externalising problems examined on children from age 3 to 17 years old using MCS dataset, and found reciprocal effect (Speyer et al., 2022). However, it is unknown whether these “within-individual” changes in mental health of children and parents are constant across poverty. We aimed to examine whether within-individual links between parent and child mental health vary in poverty and non-poverty groups, using multigroup ALT-SR models, building on the MCS explained above.


Developmental trajectories of parental psychological distress and their associations with depressive symptoms in mid-adolescent offspring
Study: Millennium Cohort Study

Steven Papachristou, University College London

Co-authors: Katia Mace, Maria Sifaki, Eirini Flouri and Emily Midouhas

Investigations on the influence of parental psychological distress on offspring’s depressive symptoms have largely focused on maternal, rather than paternal, symptoms. Using data from 8,888 Millennium Cohort Study children and their parents we examined whether parental psychological distress trajectories during offspring’s childhood are associated with depressive symptoms in mid-adolescent offspring. Our findings indicate parallel development of parental psychological distress trajectories. Moreover, maternal and paternal intercepts were independently predictive of mid-adolescent depression scores, as was the maternal, but not the paternal, slope after adjustments for confounding. Our findings highlight the importance of early intervention targeting psychological distress in both parents.

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