14-year-old girls are the new high-risk group for mental illness

  • J Educ Res

  • curated by Dawn O'Shea
  • UK Medical News
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Teenage girls are suffering far worse mental health and well-being issues than boys, according to a major new study.

The findings are based on data collected in 2015 by the Millennium Cohort Study for more than 11,000 UK teenagers which revealed that around 15 per cent (approximately 1650) reported self-harm in the last year. Among teenagers who self-harmed, almost three-quarters (73%) were girls - more than double the rate for boys.

One in 10 teenagers reported depressive characteristics and low mood and, among them, teenage girls were significantly more likely to experience negative moods than boys (78% vs 22%).

A quarter of teenagers felt completely unhappy. Again, the rate for girls was approximately double the rate for boys (63% vs 37%). Over a quarter of young people reported a low sense of their own value including poor self-image, with girls being over three times more likely than boys (79% vs 21%).

Poverty is another significant factor; the study found teenagers from families earning the least were significantly (48%) more likely to report low life satisfaction than those from the wealthiest homes.

The authors say the findings have implications for policymakers on how to tackle an increase in mental health issues among young people, especially females in mid-adolescence.

The study is published in the journal Research Papers in Education.