Schoolgirls at Risk of Emotional Problems: The number of schoolgirls at risk of emotional problems in England has increased ‘sharply’ since 2009, according to a recent study published in the Journal of Adolescent Mental Health.
Researchers reviewed the answers of 1600 pupils aged 11-13 to questionnaires in 2009, and compared them to the same survey taken five years later. Whilst boys answers remained relatively stable, the number of girls reporting emotional issues spiked by 7%.
The survey, which was carried out online, asked students to indicate to what degree they agreed with a series of statements which were clinically validated in terms of assessing the risk of developing a range of mental health issues. The sample for 2009 was tailored to match that in 2014.
However, the findings suggest that social, behavioural and peer orientated problems remained constant across the five year gap. This suggests, according to the research team, that girls face unique pressures – potentially including the desire to achieve unrealistic body image and the increasing levels of sexualisation of young women; both often perpetuated by social media.
The experts also suggested that cuts to the mental health budget may also be to blame, and argued that these services should be made more widely available.
Sarah Brennan, speaking on behalf of the YoungMinds charity, said that the research was a further shocking example of ‘concrete evidence of the serious and worsening state of children and young people’s mental health.’
The Royal College of Psychiatrists has said there is an urgent need to conduct a national survey of children’s mental health. The last time such a survey was undertaken was more than a decade ago by the Office for National Statistics.
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