About this Journal

Article Abstract

Online ISSN: 1099-176X    Print ISSN: 1091-4358
The Journal of Mental Health Policy and Economics
Volume 25, Issue 3, 2022. Pages: 105-117
Published Online: 1 September 2022

Copyright © 2022 ICMPE.


Mental Health Problems and Risky Health Behaviors among Young Individuals in Turkey: The Case of Being NEET

Deniz Karaoglan,* Nazire Begen, PInar Tat

Department of Economics, Gebze Technical University (GTU), Kocaeli, Turkey


* Correspondence to: Deniz Karaoglan, Department of Economics, Gebze Technical University (GTU), Kocaeli, Turkey.
Tel.: (262) 605 1449.
E-mail: hyurtseven@gtu.edu.tr

 Source of Funding: This study is granted by The Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey (Project No: 120K787).



Background: The concept of neither in active employment nor in education and training (NEET) is quite important because it potentially addresses a broad array of vulnerabilities among the young, touching on issues of unemployment, early school leaving, and labor market discouragement.

Aims of the Study: In this study, we examine the relationship between being NEET and the probability of having mental health problems and risky health behaviors (namely smoking and alcohol consumption), as well as being obese among young individuals in Turkey. This research also aims to investigate the association between mental health problems/risky health behaviors and parental socio-economic status.

Methods: Empirical analyses are conducted by utilizing 2014, 2016, and 2019 rounds of Turkish Health Survey (THS) datasets. We conduct multivariate logit techniques through the analysis.

Results: The results suggest that the probability of having mental health problems and the prevalence of obesity increases if the young individual is NEET. In addition, we find that there is no significant association between being NEET and having risky health behaviors if the young individual is inactive NEET. However, our results suggest that both the probability of smoking and alcohol consumption increases for unemployed NEETs.

Discussion: To the best of our knowledge, there is a lack of evidence of systematically and thoroughly examined associations between mental health/risky health behaviors and NEET status in Turkey, as well as southern European, developing, or Muslim countries with similar socioeconomic levels. In addition, some of the previous studies have concentrated on specific populations such as young individuals living in mental health centers or males in military institutions. Therefore, the group of NEETs participating in this study may be a large representative sample for all NEETs in the population. The main limitation is that our data set is constructed by merging health surveys, it allows for only cross-sectional comparisons and thus it makes it difficult to claim a causal relationship. Thus, future studies may contribute to the literature by employing panel data or making experimental research.

Implications for Health Policies and Further Research: The policies and interventions should be considered to prevent young individuals from becoming NEET and to re-integrate them into society. For instance, creating more education opportunities or programs to facilitate the direct transition from school to the labor market should be the main objective of policymakers. Also, a series of mental health and social skill support programs such as incorporating mental health services into youth career support initiatives can be implemented for increasing youth's confidence and job readiness. The findings on smoking and alcohol consumption point out that policymakers should be careful about the differences between unemployed and inactive NEETs while taking precautions. Finally, young individuals should be informed about the future risks of obesity, and policies such as motivational support programs to improve health and well-being, encouraging weight loss for young obese/overweight individuals should be put forward in Turkey.

Received 4 September 2021; accepted 7 June 2022

Copyright 2022 ICMPE