Factors associated with vocational disengagement among young people entering mental health treatment Academic Article uri icon


  • AIM:Most mental disorders have their onset by age 25, disrupting normative vocational engagement. Factors associated with vocational disengagement at first contact with specialist treatment are important for service planning. The aim of this paper was to investigate the association between theoretically important factors and vocational disengagement for youth entering mental health treatment. METHODS:A file audit was used to extract vocational data of 145 young people aged 15 to 25 years entering treatment in 2011 at a public youth mental health service in Melbourne, Australia. Comparisons were made across three specialist programs for: psychosis (n = 50), mood disorders (n = 52) and borderline personality pathology (n = 43). Individual characteristics were entered into univariate and multivariate logistic regressions to investigate their associations with vocational disengagement. RESULTS:Educational disengagement was associated with being older (OR = 4.38, P = 0.004) and not living with parents (OR = 2.87, P = 0.038). Unemployment and being NEET (Not in Education, Employment or Training) were both associated with not having commenced tertiary education (OR = 0.23, P = 0.022; OR = 0.05, P = 0.002; respectively). Being NEET was also associated with being older (OR = 6.18, P = 0.004). Primary diagnostic grouping was not associated with vocational disengagement, once accounting for other factors. CONCLUSIONS:The likelihood of vocational disengagement did not differ across disorder groups, implying that intervention should be "transdiagnostic" and might best target education first, specifically post-secondary qualifications. Other domains or variables not measured in this study are also likely to be important, and this might include young people's support systems and symptom severity. Qualitative studies may be useful for exploring further factors relevant to vocational engagement.


  • Caruana, Emma
  • Allott, Kelly
  • Farhall, John
  • Parrish, Emma M
  • Davey, Christopher G
  • Chanen, Andrew M
  • Killackey, Eoin
  • Cotton, Susan M

publication date

  • 2019