Mental Health & Neurology

Post-Doctoral Fellowships

United States

Supporting young people's mental health during the transition to work

Today’s young workforce will have a very different experience of entering the labor market than that of previous generations with later entry and a more uncertain working environment - including less job security and fewer job protections.
It has been suggested that working conditions contribute to a high burden of mental health problems in young people. However, there is little research on associations between work experiences and mental health in young people (i.e., those between 18 and 30 years old), who are making the transition from education into the workforce. Such research is important since mental health problems during the transition to work can severely disrupt early working life.

Dr Jasmin Wertz from Duke University (US) aims at examining youth’s transition to work. “Mental health problems are common and place an enormous burden on individuals and society, but we still lack the knowledge to effectively prevent them”, she says. “I am studying factors that contribute to the development of mental health problems in young people, because most mental health problems have their first onset before young adulthood”. With her project, she proposes to use datasets from the UK, Germany and New Zealand to generate new knowledge about how young people’s personal characteristics, upbringing and work experiences shape their mental health during the transition to work. First, she will test whether young people's precarious work experiences are associated with mental health markers of stress - such as depression, anxiety and substance use - and biological markers of stress such as inflammation and poor sleep. Second, she will test which young workers are particularly vulnerable to experiencing poor mental health during the transition from education into work, by screening associations between their pre-existing mental health problems, work-related expectations, aspirations and values, other stressful life circumstances they experience outside of work, social media use, and  their mental health problems. Third, she will investigate how families and schools can help build work-stress resilience before young adults enter the workforce, by examining effects of young people’s upbringing and school experiences on their mental health. 

Ultimately the goal of Dr Wertz’s research is to inform interventions ranging from employer initiatives aimed at reducing and improving mental health problems at work to public policymaking for the improvement youth’s mental health.



Duke University


United States



ORCID Open Researcher and Contributor ID, a unique and persistent identifier to researchers