The Influence of Mental Disorders on School Dropout in Mexico

Published In: (Revista Panamericana de Salud Publica) Pan American Journal of Public Health, v. 30, no. 5, Nov. 2011, p. 477-483

Posted on RAND.org on November 01, 2011

by Guilherme Borges, María Elena Icaza Medina-Mora, Corina Benjet, Sing Lee, Michael Lane, Joshua Breslau

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OBJECTIVE: To study the impact of mental disorders on failure in educational attainment in Mexico. METHODS: Diagnoses and age of onset for each of 16 DSM-IV disorders were assessed through retrospective self-reports with the Composite International Diagnostic Instrument (CIDI) during fieldwork in 2001–2002. Survival analysis was used to examine associations between early onset DSM-IV/CIDI disorders and subsequent school dropout or failure to reach educational milestones. RESULTS: More than one of two Mexicans did not complete secondary education. More than one-third of those who finished secondary education did not enter college, and one of four students who entered college did not graduate. Impulse control disorders and substance use disorders were associated with higher risk for school dropout, secondary school dropout and to a lesser degree failure to enter college. Anxiety disorders were associated with lower risk for school dropout, especially secondary school dropout and, to a lesser degree, primary school dropout. CONCLUSIONS: The heterogeneity of results found in Mexico may be due to the effect of mental disorders being diminished or masked by the much greater effect of economic hardship and low cultural expectations for educational achievement. Future research should inquire deeper into possible reasons for the better performance of students with anxiety disorders in developing countries.

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