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Study: Severe mental illness in youth has detrimental effect on future career

Mental illness adversely affects income, education and employment. Schizophrenics have the lowest employment rates.

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Esimerkiksi kriisipuhelimeen voi soittaa nimettömästi ja keskustella. Kuvituskuva. Image: Liisa Takala / Yle

Hospitalisation for mental disorders in youth and early adulthood has the potential to hinder future careers, according to a study by a consortium of five Finnish universities. Researchers found a link between mental health disorders and low salaries, poor education and unemployment.

The study revealed that income levels, educational attainment and employment rates of people under 25 who have been hospitalised due to past mental illnesses are notably lower than that of the general workforce. They also face a greater risk of joblessness and often may not pursue secondary or tertiary education.

Individuals who had been hospitalised for schizophrenia had the lowest employment rates of all subjects in the study.

Less than 10 percent of this group was found to be gainfully employed during the duration of the study. Just under half of subjects who had been hospitalised with mental illnesses were still employed after the age of 25.

Wages remain low

The study also found that average incomes of those hospitalised for severe mental illness in their youth remained quite low throughout their career and did not increase at any point. More than half had no income at all during the survey period.

The researchers examined data on more than two million individuals between the ages of 25 and 52 in Finland from 1998 to 2015.

"People diagnosed with mental illness do not participate in the labour market for a variety of reasons. However, in treating severe mental illness it would be good to ensure at an early stage that patients have the opportunity to participate in working life and training," Helsinki University researcher Christian Hakulinen said in a statement.

The study was published in the Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica journal, and was funded by the Academy of Finland and the wage earners' association.

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