Purpose: Not in Education, Employment, or Training (NEET) youth are youth disengaged from major social institutions and constitute a worrying concern. However, little is known about this subgroup of vulnerable youth. This study aimed to examine if NEET youth differ from other contemporaries in terms of personality, mental health, and substance use and to provide longitudinal examination of NEET status, testing its stability and prospective pathways with mental health and substance use.
Methods: As part of the Cohort Study on Substance Use Risk Factors, 4,758 young Swiss men in their early 20s answered questions concerning their current professional and educational status, personality, substance use, and symptomatology related to mental health. Descriptive statistics, generalized linear models for cross-sectional comparisons, and cross-lagged panel models for longitudinal associations were computed.
Results: NEET youth were 6.1% at baseline and 7.4% at follow-up with 1.4% being NEET at both time points. Comparisons between NEET and non-NEET youth showed significant differences in substance use and depressive symptoms only. Longitudinal associations showed that previous mental health, cannabis use, and daily smoking increased the likelihood of being NEET. Reverse causal paths were nonsignificant.
Conclusions: NEET status seemed to be unlikely and transient among young Swiss men, associated with differences in mental health and substance use but not in personality. Causal paths presented NEET status as a consequence of mental health and substance use rather than a cause. Additionally, this study confirmed that cannabis use and daily smoking are public health problems. Prevention programs need to focus on these vulnerable youth to avoid them being disengaged.
Keywords: Cannabis use; Cigarette smoking; Disengagement; Education; Unemployment.
Copyright © 2015 Society for Adolescent Health and Medicine. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.