Berit Sofie Karlsen, Jocelyne Clench-Aas, Betty Van Roy and
Mental health problems in early adolescents are a public health challenge in many western communities. The aim of this study was to examine the association between social anxiety and mental health problems, related to parental socioeconomic status. Data from a cross-sectional survey among Norwegian school-children were used
(N=9707), targeting pupils in 5-7 grade (aged 10-13) and their parents (N=8603). The Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire was used for measuring mental health problems and their impact, based on self-reported data from the children. For determining social anxiety problems, questions from Development and Well Being Assessment were used. Parent education was used as an indicator for children`s socioeconomic status. Information on social anxiety problems and socioeconomic status were obtained from the parental questionnaire.
We found a strong relationship between social anxiety and mental health problems in the group representing low parental socioeconomic status (OR=2.607) compared with the group representing high socioeconomic status (OR=1.169). Examining the individual items of the measure of social anxiety, we also found that children in the low socioeconomic status group had a higher prevalence of problems performing in front of others.
Social inequality contributes to different mental health outcomes in children with social anxiety.