Pedagogical Science student Kim Janse wins Unilever Research Prize 2023

Research into youth mental health and the role of living and school environment

For her master's thesis, Kim Janse, a master's student Opvoedvraagstukken in een Diverse Samenleving at Erasmus University Rotterdam, researched the role of living and school environments in mental health problems in young people. It showed that the school's social environment has influence. She received the Unilever Research Prize 2023 for her thesis on Thursday, 23 November, in Wageningen.

Society is increasingly concerned about the increase in mental health problems among young people. Using an interdisciplinary approach, Kim investigated the role of two causes of mental health problems: living in a deprived neighbourhood and having rlower support from teachers and classmates. To do so, she used a large dataset of more than 6,000 Dutch adolescents.  It showed that young people with less support at school had more mental health problems. There appeared to be no association between living in a deprived neighbourhood and mental health problems. This seems to suggest that the school's social environment is important. When measures are taken and policies are developed to improve young people's mental health, the school environment should be a critical focal point.

Supervisor Dom Weinberg: "From the start, Kim's enthusiasm for researching social challenges was clear. She independently found an unexplored research area, which indicates her commitment. Kim became embedded in the literature with impressive speed and chose an ambitious project that required additional data. Kim was the best student of her year, always well prepared, a critical and analytical thinker and a role model for her fellow students."

Kim is completing her master's degree Opvoedvraagstukken in een Diverse Samenleving with an internship focusing on youth policy in local government. 

About Unilever Research Prize

The Unilever Research Prize is an annual award presented to young researchers to support scientific talent and showcase Unilever's relationship with Dutch academia. Students are selected if the topic of their master's thesis significantly contributes to one or more of the 'Global Goals' (or Sustainable Development Goals). 2023 marks the 67th year of the Unilever Research Prize.


The Effect of School Social Environment on the Relation Between Neighbourhood Deprivation and Mental Health Problems

1st supervisor: Dr Dom Weinberg and 2nd reviewer Prof Nicole Lucassen

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