Neighborhood context and mental health over the early life course


Barr, Peter (2015). Neighborhood context and mental health over the early life course.


A rapidly growing body of literature emphasize the importance of place in regards to mental health. Specifically, the “neighborhood effects” literature has consistently linked aspects of neighborhood context to mental health outcomes, above and beyond individual-level factors. With few exceptions, the majority of this research has involved limited time spans, which prevents a full understanding of mental health as it is affected by neighborhood conditions over time. This dissertation incorporates a life course framework into the analysis of neighborhood context and its impact on long-term trajectories of mental health. Using all four waves of data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health (Add Health), I model changes in depression and heavy episodic drinking using multilevel growth curve models. I also consider how certain aspects of neighborhoods interact with stressful individual experience. Specifically, I test to see whether the effect of exposure to violence on both depression and heavy drinking is moderated by neighborhood disorder. Results demonstrate that neighborhood context in adolescence has implications for long term patterns of depression and heavy episodic drinking, both through the effect living in these neighborhoods as well as the proximate conditions associated with living in highly disadvantaged and disordered neighborhoods. I also find that in certain instances, highly disordered neighborhoods make the mental health implications for being exposed to violence worse.



neighborhoods life course mental health longitudinal

Reference Type


Book Title



Barr, Peter

Series Author(s)

Frech, Adrianne

Year Published


Volume Number



University of Akron

Reference ID