Time trends of Finnish adolescents’ mental health and use of alcohol and cigarettes from 1998 to 2014
This study reports time-trend changes in self-reported mental health problems, smoking, and alcohol habits among Finnish adolescents over a 16-year period using three cross-sectional studies with similar designs, methodologies, and geographical recruitment areas. There were 4508 participants with a mean age of 14.4 years (range 13–18) in 1998 (n = 1449), 2008 (n = 1560), and 2014 (n = 1499). The information they provided on their mental health was measured with the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire and they were also asked questions about their alcohol and smoking habits. The findings showed that from 1998 to 2014 females reported less hyperactivity and conduct problems and males reported fewer peer problems and better prosocial skills. The only mental health problem that showed a significant increase was emotional symptoms among females. Smoking and alcohol use consistently decreased in males and females during the 16-year period. Our findings suggest that overall adolescent’s self-reported mental health problems were either stable or falling, indicating increased well-being. The decreased smoking indicates that anti-smoking campaigns have been successfully changing teenagers’ attitudes towards smoking. The important finding is that self-reported emotional symptoms had increased in females. This may indicate an increase or earlier onset of affective disorders.
KeywordsAdolescent Alcohol Mental health Smoking Time-trend analysis
This study was funded by the Academy of Finland.
Compliance with ethical standards
Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
The ethical standards from the 1964 Declaration of Helsinki and its later amendments were followed. The Ethical Committee at the Hospital District of Turku University Hospital (1998, 2008) and the Ethics Committee of the University of Turku (2014) approved the study design and permission was obtained from school authorities. Participation was voluntary for adolescents and their anonymity was ensured. The questionnaires were completed anonymously. Parental consent was obtained by informing them about the study and they had possibility to refuse adolescent not to participate in the study.
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