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Associations between mental health competence and indicators of physical health and cognitive development in eleven year olds: findings from the UK Millennium Cohort Study

Hope, S; Rougeaux, E; Deighton, J; Law, C; Pearce, A; (2019) Associations between mental health competence and indicators of physical health and cognitive development in eleven year olds: findings from the UK Millennium Cohort Study. BMC Public Health , 19 , Article 1461. 10.1186/s12889-019-7789-7. Green open access

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Abstract

BACKGROUND: Positive mental health may support healthy development in childhood, although few studies have investigated this at a population level. We aimed to construct a measure of mental health competence (MHC), a skills-based assessment of positive mental health, using existing survey items in a representative sample of UK children, and to investigate its overlap with mental health difficulties (MHD), socio-demographic patterning, and relationships with physical health and cognitive development. // METHODS: We analysed the UK Millennium Cohort Study (MCS) when children were aged 11 years. Maternal (n = 12,082) and teacher (n = 6739) reports of prosocial behaviours (PS) and learning skills (LS) were entered into latent class models to create MHC measures. Using descriptive statistics, we examined relationships between MHC and MHD, and the socio-demographic patterning of MHC. Associations between MHC and physical health and cognitive development were examined with relative risk ratios [RRR] (from multinomial models): BMI status (healthy weight, overweight, obesity); unintentional injuries since age 7 (none, 1, 2+); asthma symptoms (none, 1, 2+); and tertiles of test scores for verbal ability, spatial working memory and risk-taking. Models were adjusted for potential confounding. // RESULTS: Four MHC classes were identified [percentages for maternal and teacher reports, respectively]: high MHC (high PS, high LS) [37%; 39%], high-moderate MHC (high PS, moderate LS) [36%; 26%]; moderate MHC (moderate PS, moderate LS) [19%; 19%]; low MHC (moderate PS, low LS) [8%; 16%]. Higher MHC was less common in socially disadvantaged children. While MHC and MHD were associated, there was sufficient separation to indicate that MHC captures more than the absence of MHD. Compared to children with high MHC, those in other MHC classes tended to have poorer physical health and cognitive development, particularly those with low MHC or high-moderate MHC. For example, children with maternal-report Low MHC were more likely to have experienced 2+ unintentional injuries (RRR: 1.5 [1.1–2.1]) and to have lower verbal ability scores (RRR: 2.5 [1.9–3.2]). Patterns of results were similar for maternal- and teacher-report MHC. // CONCLUSION: MHC is not simply the inverse of MHD, and high MHC is associated with better physical health and cognitive development. Findings suggest that interventions to improve MHC may support healthy development, although they require replication.

Type: Article
Title: Associations between mental health competence and indicators of physical health and cognitive development in eleven year olds: findings from the UK Millennium Cohort Study
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1186/s12889-019-7789-7
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1186/s12889-019-7789-7
Language: English
Additional information: This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver (http://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/ 1.0/) applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.
Keywords: Cohort studies, Positive mental health, Public health, Social and life-course epidemiology, children/child health, physical health, cognitive development
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences > Clinical, Edu and Hlth Psychology
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Population Health Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Population Health Sciences > UCL GOS Institute of Child Health
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Population Health Sciences > UCL GOS Institute of Child Health > Population, Policy and Practice Dept
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10085384
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