ABSTRACT INTRODUCTION: Adolescence is a stage of great social, family and emotional demands, and the literature has related common mental disorder (CMD) with poor living conditions. OBJECTIVE: To investigate the relationship between CMD and socioeconomic status in Brazilian adolescents aged 12 to 17 years. METHOD: This is a cross-sectional study with data from the Study of Cardiovascular Risk in Adolescents (ERICA – Estudo de Riscos Cardiovasculares em Adolescentes). The outcome was CMD and the exposure was socioeconomic status assessed by race/skin color, maternal schooling, resident/room relationship, type of school, existence of maid and bathroom at home, and work activity. For the calculation of prevalence, the survey mode was used and, in the multivariate analysis, logistic regression with p < 5%, as well as the 95% confidence interval. RESULTS: The prevalence of CMD in girls was 23.3%, and in boys, 11.1%. The variables associated with CMD in girls were age between 15 and 17 years (OR = 1.34; 1.17–1.51), studying in private school (OR = 1.13; 1.01–1.27), having a housemaid (OR = 1.15; 1.00–1.34) and, as a protective factor, unpaid work (OR = 0.64; 0.55–0.75). Boys also had a higher chance of CMD in the highest age group (OR = 1.42; 1.18–1.71) and when they had a housemaid (OR = 1.26; 1.02–1.57), whereas unpaid work decreased this chance (OR = 0.79; 0.67–0.95). CONCLUSION: Socioeconomic variables that were associated with CMD were suggestive of higher economic class, whereas unpaid work favored the mental health of adolescents, results contrary to the literature on socioeconomic status and CMD.