An Otago University Study has shown a link between mental illness in early adult life and both employment and economic security in the future.
The study found those who suffered a psychiatric disorder between the ages of 18 and 25 are more likely to be on a benefit and earn less money by the time they are 30.
Disorders such as depression, anxiety and substance abuse were experienced by just over half those in the study.
The researchers say psychiatric disorders lead to a range of negative outcomes including reduced participation in the workforce.
They say the people most at risk are those who suffer more than one type of mental illness, and targeted intervention in those cases is urgently needed.