TEENAGERS who battle with nerves or depression are more likely to end up out of work as adults, according to a major new report.

Researchers from Stirling University found that adolescents with emotional problems went on to suffer unemployment as young adults, regardless of their socio-economic background.

Teenagers who were highly distressed between the ages of 16 and 20 were one-third (32 per cent) more likely to be unemployed and one-quarter (26 per cent) more likely to be out of work in early adulthood.

The research, based on a study of more than 7,000 Americans carried out over 12 years, found that this even held true for siblings, with emotional problems carrying a heavy penalty even among brothers and sisters from the same background.

Mark Egan, of the Behavioural Science Centre at the University of Stirling, called for investment in mental health treatment for young adults.

He said: “Investing in childhood and adolescent mental health services could have economic benefits including reducing population-level unemployment.

“Widening access to effective treatments for early life distress could lead to large economic returns by helping individuals into employment and increasing their lifetime earnings.”

The study also suggested that the impact of distress on teenagers’ future job prospects grew in the years following the recession around 2008.

It looked at youngsters with a history of emotional problems and found a “pronounced” rise in joblessness during the financial collapse.

Mr Egan said: “These findings provide strong evidence that distressed adolescents are vulnerable to unemployment and suggest that this vulnerability increased during the recent difficult economic period following the Great Recession.”

The research was published in Social Science & Medicine.