The 2018 National Eating Disorders and Obesity Conference will be held at Twin Towns Services Club over 27-28 September.

Joining us at this year’s conference is Ms Rebekah Thomas, PhD Candidate at the University of Queensland who will present on ‘Comorbidity in Mental Health and its Contribution to Decreased Academic Performance in Adolescents.’


Current research clearly demonstrates that there is a noteworthy influence of mental health concerns on academic achievement for adolescents. Disordered eating, depression, anxiety and substance use are all linked to poorer school performance. To date there is limited research that focuses on the combination of these concerns and the relationship that this comorbidity has with the school achievements of teenagers. We are interested to examine whether a greater number of concerns are related to a higher risk of poor academic achievement and whether certain combinations of concerns are more likely to result in poor academic achievements than others.

School students aged between 11 and 17 years (N = 10,273) from high schools in the State of Victoria (Australia) completed surveys in class under conditions of anonymity and confidentiality. A one-way between-subjects ANOVA was used to compare the effect of disordered eating, mental health and alcohol use on academic achievement.
ANOVA analysis revealed a significant effect of number of groups on academic performance. Follow-up analyses revealed that participants with multiple mental health concerns were more likely to have poorer school results than participants with zero or one concern. Participants were most likely to be in the cluster of depression and anxiety concerns with 21.6% of all adolescents showing at least moderate symptoms of both anxiety and depression.

Mental health has a strong link towards negative academic performance in adolescences. These results highlight the importance of considering comorbidity and a person-centred approach in regards to approaching poor school results. Knowledge of what combinations of mental health concerns are most strongly linked with poor academic achievement will also assist to inform inventions of specific at-risk groups.

Key learnings:
1. Current research
2. Comorbidity
3. Academic achievement


Rebekah is completing her PhD in psychology at the University of Queensland, which focuses on understanding disordered eating behaviours in adolescents. She is also currently completing her Masters of Clinical Psychology at UQ.

For more information on the upcoming 2018 National Eating Disorders and Obesity Conference and to register your place please visit





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