Associations of Social Capital and Rurality with Adolescent Mental Health, Substance Use, and Help-Seeking in Atlantic Canada
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Mental health disorders are common among adolescents, yet only a small proportion of students perceive a need for help, or receive help or use any related services. Social scientists hypothesize that social capital may decrease rates of unmet need for help by creating trusting relationships which enable the transfer of information about help and support individuals’ decisions to get help. We employed the 2012 Student Drug Use Survey in the Atlantic Provinces to investigate social capital’s associations with mental health and help-seeking for Atlantic Canada adolescents. We found that greater social capital was consistently associated with lower odds of having a probable mental health disorder. However, greater social capital was generally associated with lower odds of perceived need and higher odds of unmet need. Our interpretation was that social capital may act as a protective factor which can mitigate the severity and duration of poor mental health episodes.