Geographic, Socio-Demographic and School Type Variation in Adolescent Wellbeing and Mental Health and Links with Academic Competence in the United Arab Emirates

Jose Marquez, Louise Lambert, Megan Cutts

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Interest in adolescents’ wellbeing and mental health is growing worldwide, but little research in this area has been conducted in certain world regions and countries such as the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Geographic, socio-demographic and school type differences in adolescent wellbeing and mental health are commonly observed in the field, and the UAE is a diverse country where these types of differences have been found for other outcomes (notably, academic). Yet, no prior national study has explored these differences in terms of wellbeing and mental health in the nation. We address this gap by investigating differences across emirates, gender, socio-economic status, immigrant status, school sector and school curriculum for overall life satisfaction, positive affect, negative affect, meaning and purpose in life, and internalizing difficulties. We use linear regression to analyse cross-sectional data from the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) study from 2015 and 2018. We find substantial geographic, socio-demographic and school type differences in levels (2018) of wellbeing and mental health -which vary across distinct domains- and declines (2015–2018) of wellbeing. Better wellbeing and mental health are observed in the northern emirates and among boys. Better wellbeing and poorer mental health are observed among nationals (compared to expatriates) and in public schools (compared to private schools). Despite presenting the best academic outcomes, British schools present the worst wellbeing and mental health outcomes. However, results show the absence of a trade-off between academic competence and wellbeing and mental health, with evidence of a small positive association with wellbeing.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)797-836
Number of pages40
JournalChild Indicators Research
Volume16
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2023
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Adolescence
  • Life Satisfaction
  • Mental Health
  • United Arab Emirates
  • Wellbeing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Social Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science

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