THE PROPORTION of teenage girls in Scotland with emotional problems has soared since 2010 – with pressure from schoolwork a major factor, a survey has revealed.
The study of more than 25,000 school pupils found girls were “considerably more likely” than boys to have a borderline or abnormal emotional problems score.
The percentage of 15-year-old girls with a borderline or abnormal score rose from 41 per cent to 44 per cent between 2013 and 2015.
And it found a marked increase in the proportion of 15-year-old girls who felt pressured “a lot” by schoolwork, from 39 per cent in 2010 to 62 per cent, and a rise in those reporting a physical or mental health condition or illness lasting 12 months or more, from 11 per cent to 21 per cent.
It comes after a major obesity study by the World Health Organisation (WHO) published on Wednesday discovered a dramatic rise in the use of computers and social media was wreaking havoc on the health of young people, with Scots teenagers spending more time online or gaming than those in almost any other European nation.
Last year WHO found that 15-year-old girls in Scotland faced more pressure from schoolwork than boys and report poorer health than others around the world.
Their research suggested Scotland had a significantly greater proportion of 15-year-old girls in poor health and the Scottish Government then said income equality was at the root of the issue.
But the 2015 Scottish Schools Adolescent Lifestyle and Substance Use Survey (Salsus) found emotional problems are affecting 15-year-old girls regardless of whether they are from deprived or well-off backgrounds.
Between 2010 and 2015 the percentage agreeing “I worry a lot” rose from 31 per cent to 50 per cent while the proportion who agreed with the statement “I am nervous in new situations, I easily lose confidence” increased from 35% to 44%.
The report comes just a matters of days after the launch of a new initiative to give hundreds of schoolchildren dedicated help with their mental wellbeing by putting a team of health workers in every secondary school in Dundee.
The move, a collaboration between Dundee City Council and The Corner — which supports young people’s health — comes amid growing levels of stress and anxiety in teenagers.
Manjeet Gill, coordinator at The Corner, who said large numbers of schoolchildren had used The Corner’s drop-in service last year, explained: “Many young people contacted us about anxiety and stress, bullying, confidence, low mood and self-esteem.”
Ms Gill said the idea of the workers was to support “early interventions” in children with mental health and other issues, to get them help before any problems develop into more serious issues.
Mental health minister Maureen Watt said the report provided “useful data” to improve understanding of why some teenagers experience poor mental health and added: “However, the survey also tells us that the patterns and prevalence of different mental health problems vary according to age, gender and deprivation. That is particularly so in the case of 15 year old girls, who have been recorded as experiencing a higher level of emotional problems than other demographics.
“Our new 10-year Mental Health Strategy has prevention and early intervention at its heart. We know that this is key to minimising the prevalence and incidence of poor mental health later in life.”