1 in 4 girls are depressed at age 14, new study reveals

1 in 4 girls are depressed at age 14, new study reveals

New research by the UCL Institute of Education shows that a quarter of girls (24%) and 1 in 10 boys (9%) are depressed at age 14.

More than 10, 000 children born in 2000-2001 took part in the Millennium Cohort Study. The results were then analysed by researchers from the UCL Institute of Education and the University of Liverpool.

In the study, parents were asked to report on their child’s mental health at various ages, 3,5,7 and 11. When a child reached 14 they were then directly asked about their emotional problems. Based on this reporting, 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 10 boys suffer from depression.

Published with the National Children’s Bureau, the research also showed that when children reached adolescence at 14, emotional problems became more prevalent in girls, with 18% having symptoms of depression and anxiety, compared to 12% of boys. However, before adolescence boys were more likely than girls to have behavior problems, such as acting out, fighting and being rebellious.

The research also highlighted the importance of listening to young people’s views when it comes to their own mental health. Many reports from 14-year-olds about their emotional problems were different from that of their parents.

Dr Marc Bush, Chief Policy Adviser at YoungMinds says:

We know that teenage girls face a huge range of pressures, including stress at school, body image issues, bullying, and the pressure created by social media. Difficult experiences in childhood – including bereavement, domestic violence or neglect – can also have a serious impact, often several years down the line.

“To make matters worse, it can be extremely difficult for teenagers to get the right support if they’re struggling to cope. That’s why it’s crucial that mental health services are properly funded, with a focus on early intervention. As a society, we also need to do far more to prevent mental health problems from developing in the first place. To start with, we need to rebalance our education system, so that schools are able to prioritise wellbeing and not just exam results."

YoungMinds’ campaign, Wise Up to Wellbeing, calls on the Government to rebalance the education system so that wellbeing is as important as academic achievement.

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