Adolescence, which is the transition from childhood to adulthood, is marked by emotional sensitivity and inconsistency and may be affected by mental health problems. In order to fill the gap related to the risky behaviors in students in Brazil, our cross-sectional study aimed to analyze the relationship between risky behaviors and indicators of mental health of Brazilian students. We used the data from the National School Health Survey to analyze the relationship between risk behaviors and three symptoms of mental health issues: feeling of being alone, number of close friends, and trouble sleeping due to worries. The sample consisted of 102,072 students in Brazil (48.3% boys and 51.7% girls), aged between 11 to 19 years. The risk behaviors evaluated were substance use, sedentary lifestyle, sexual behavior, and suffering violence and bullying. We have performed a multivariate analysis based on the Poisson regression model, and the measure of effect used was the prevalence ratio (PR) with confidence intervals (CI) of 95%. Our results showed that students with symptoms of mental health issues were involved in risky behaviors, including drug use and unsafe sex. Thus, mental illness outcomes may be associated with risky behaviors, or mental health may be impaired by them. Given these findings, in-school programs focused on improving mental health outcomes should be developed.
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