With the latest figures exposing a rise in reported distress amongst teenage girls in England, aged 14, the rates remain stable for teenage boys. It follows on from the damning 2015 report from the Children’s Society, which revealed that English children are among the most unhappy in the world.
Overall, the Department of Education survey, finds that among the girls, 37% reported feeling worthless, unhappy or unable to concentrate. More than twice the percentage of boys, whom at 15% have seen a slight decrease in their feelings of helplessness. The rise amongst girls since a 2005 study has been highlighted as “an important and significant trend”. The rate has risen by 4% in the last ten years. May seem like a small percentage, but it is growing.
While the cynical can blame all the adolescent English melancholia on the weather, the report discovered that “the rise was evident in young people living in single-parent households or with stepfamilies, and those with a long-standing illness or disability affecting their education”. Sleep was also to attributed to diminishing wellbeing, with poor sleeping patterns among many of those reporting other problems.
The survey also signals that “wellbeing is a particular issue in England”, with the Children’s Worlds survey showing that England came 14th of the 15 surveyed countries in terms of life satisfaction and performed below average for a wide range of wellbeing metrics such as happiness and optimism for the future. How can young people be optimistic when the rapid rise of house prices, on and offline social pressures, the increasing futility of higher education and fragmentation of self, are all at the forefront of their minds?
“Children’s mental health is a priority for this government and we know that intervening early can have a lasting impact,” a spokesperson for the Department of Education said, “We are putting a record £1.4bn into transforming the dedicated mental health support available to young people across the country and are working to strengthen the links between schools and mental health services.
“We are also driving forward innovations to improve prevention and early support, by investing £1.5m on peer-support networks in schools so children feel empowered to help one another.”
The young people’s mental health crisis will only intensify, if it is continues to be ignored.