Sunday 22 October 2017

Level of depression in school drop-outs here among world's worst

The OECD education report
The OECD education report
Katherine Donnelly

Katherine Donnelly

Ireland ranks among the worst in the developed world for worrying levels of depression among students who leave school early or drop out of college and can't get work.

But even graduates here say they struggle more with their mental health than their counterparts in other countries.

Irish adults are up to twice as likely to report suffering from depression than the international average, and their education level plays a big role.

Mental health depends to a great extent on when you left the education system and whether you are working, according to the latest 'Education at a Glance' report from the OCED, an international think-tank.

The incidence of self-reported depression among Irish graduates in 2014 was 10pc for females and 8pc for males, compared with 6pc and 5pc across the developed world, the report stated. The findings are based on surveys of 25-64 year olds.

The gap is particularly stark for early school-leavers, with one in four female drop-outs in Ireland and one in five males reporting depression.

'Education at a Glance' noted that the employment prospects for those who quit without a Leaving Cert have plunged in the past few years, with less than half of early school-leavers now getting jobs.

The depression rate of 26pc for female early school-leavers is the second highest in the OECD, just behind Iceland at 27pc. The depression figure for early school-leaving males is 21pc, twice the OECD average.

The higher rate of struggling with mental health in Ireland is also evident in those who fall between early school-leavers and graduates - those who have a Leaving Cert, or a further education qualification. Some 14pc of Irish women and 9pc of men in these categories report depression, ahead of 10pc and 6pc internationally.

The figures highlight the need to tackle wellbeing of students in schools. The OECD said that expanding social and emotional skills, like self- esteem, was more effective in reducing depression than other skills such as literacy or numeracy.

"It is therefore crucial that education systems ensure a smooth school-to-work transition, even for those who perform poorly at school, as they are the ones who are most likely to suffer from mental illness.

"Being unemployed or inactive increases the risk of depression, since adults in this situation may be more likely to experience loneliness and many tend to worry more about money. Having a higher educational level provides people with better tools to deal with this risk factor," it said.

The report also traces links between crime and education.

Those who get involved in crime are more likely to drop out of school.

Irish Independent

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