Early predictors of mental health in mid-adulthood

Lisa J. Pijnenburg, Lieuwe de Haan, Lauren Smith, Jonathan Rabinowitz, Stephen Z. Levine, Abraham Reichenberg, Eva Velthorst

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Aim: Substantial research has focused on the examination of factors that contribute to the development of psychiatric problems. However, much less is known about factors early in life that may protect from poor mental health outcomes in midlife. This study aimed to identify the extent to which a set of key perinatal demographic variables and adolescent academic performance were associated with good mental health in mid-adulthood. Methods: In a sample of 525 individuals (aged 34-44, 55.4% male) born and raised in Jerusalem, Israel (STREAM study) we attempted to differentiate those who did and did not report psychiatric symptoms in mid-adulthood. Using χ2 and regression analysis, we explored birth factors (year of birth, sex, birth weight, and number of older siblings, data on parental immigration and socioeconomic status), academic achievement in eighth grade and contemporaneous measures of lifestyle factors, personality traits, and perceived resilience. Results: Participants with good mental health were more often male (P =.005) and had better academic performance already at adolescence than participants who reported psychiatric symptoms in midlife (P <.001). They reported fewer physical complaints (P =.008), were less likely to smoke (P =.001) and considered themselves to be more “resilient” (P <.001). Conclusions: The results showed that better academic performance in adolescence may be associated with better stress-coping strategies, resulting in fewer psychiatric complaints, more perceived resilience, and less stress-related behaviours in mid-adulthood. Future studies confirming this hypothesis could inform public mental health interventions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)158-166
Number of pages9
JournalEarly Intervention in Psychiatry
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 John Wiley & Sons Australia, Ltd


  • adolescence
  • mental health
  • mid-adulthood
  • prediction
  • resilience
  • Humans
  • Parents
  • Male
  • Educational Status
  • Mental Health
  • Pregnancy
  • Mental Disorders/epidemiology
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Female
  • Adaptation, Psychological

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Biological Psychiatry
  • Psychiatric Mental Health


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