The Scottish Government has deemed child and adolescent mental health as a key priority. A rapid literature review was conducted in summer 2018 to explore the recent trends in mental wellbeing of Scottish adolescents and the potential factors contributing to the trends.
Some of the key findings from the review are:
- The mental wellbeing of adolescents in Scotland has worsened in recent years. Adolescent girls are likely to have lower levels of mental well-being than boys of a similar age across several indicators.
- Possible contributing factors include social media use, sleep disturbances, concerns about body image and school-related pressures.
- Although there is no strong causal evidence supporting the negative outcomes of social media on young people’s mental health, several studies have indicated an association between extreme use of social media and adverse wellbeing of young people.
- Social media use among adolescent girls in Scotland is much higher than that among boys.
- Night time use of mobiles and social media could disrupt adolescents’ sleep.
- There is a high proportion of Scottish youth, particularly girls, who are not satisfied with their physical appearance. Such body image concerns may be associated with social media use and poor mental health.
- Scottish youth, particularly teenage girls, are increasingly experiencing school-related pressures, which can be deleterious to mental wellbeing.
However, the review has certain limitations. The associations seen in the review do not necessarily imply causation. There is a need for longitudinal studies that assess these relationships over time. Additionally, the review does not take into account all the factors influencing young people’s wellbeing.