Adolescent Mental Health, Behavior Problems, and Academic Achievement

Jane D. McLeod, Ryotaro Uemura, Shawna Rohrman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

182 Citations (Scopus)


Prior research on the association of mental health and behavior problems with academic achievement is limited because it does not consider multiple problems simultaneously, take co-occurring problems into account, and control for academic aptitude. We addressed these limitations using data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (N = 6,315). We estimated the associations of depression, attention problems, delinquency, and substance use with two indicators of academic achievement (high school GPA and highest degree received) with controls for academic aptitude. Attention problems, delinquency, and substance use were significantly associated with diminished achievement, but depression was not. Combinations of problems involving substance use were especially consequential. Our results demonstrate that the social consequences of mental health problems are not the inevitable result of diminished functional ability but, rather, reflect negative social responses. These results also encourage a broader perspective on mental health by demonstrating that behavior problems heighten the negative consequences of more traditional forms of distress.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)482-497
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Health and Social Behavior
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2012 Dec


  • adolescence
  • education
  • mental health
  • stratification
  • substance use

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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