Teenagers increasingly prone to mental health problems
Teenagers are far from likely to suffer from anxiety, depression and behavioural problems than their counterparts of 30 years ago, according to latest research.
The research by the Nuffield Foundation’s changing adolescence programme, Changing Adolescence: Social Trends and Mental Health, found that the proportion of 15- and 16-year-olds feeling anxious or depressed has doubled in the past 30 years, from one in 30 to one in 15 for boys.
The proportion of girls of the same age feeling anxious or depressed has risen from one in 10, to one in five over the same period.
The proportion of 15- and 16-year-olds with behaviour problems, according to their parents, has more than doubled from seven per cent in 1974 to 15 per cent in 1999, although researchers noted that the rate has remained static since then.
Factors include a rise in the divorce rate, with young people in the 2000s twice as likely to have experienced their parents’ divorcing than teenagers in 1974.
Research author Dr Ann Hagell said: "For 16- to 18-year-olds in particular there have been dramatic changes over the past 30 years. Their relationships with their families are different; they experience more active parenting that continues into their early adulthood."
The research also found that the youth labour market has collapsed over the past 30 years as teenagers instead turn to further education. During the mid-1980s more than 40 per cent of 16- to 19-year-olds were in full-time employment. This proportion had halved by 2007. Data from 2009 shows 69 per cent of 16- to 18-year-olds were in full time education.
Dr Hagell added: "Most important are the changes in how they spend their time. Today's young people are in educational and training environments populated almost entirely by their peers, rather than the more mixed environment of work.
"There is virtually no youth labour market, and the future for this generation looks very different."
YoungMinds director of campaigns, policy and participation Lucie Russell said: "Young people's mental health is under pressure like never before. With zero job prospects, university increasingly financially unviable, ever increasing pressure to follow the latest consumer trends and worrying rates of online bullying, this research reflects shows just how difficult it is for young people growing up in the 21st century."