Teenage mental health problems have doubled

Mental health problems in teenagers have mushroomed over the
past 25 years, according to a study from London’s Institute
of Psychiatry.

There have been “substantial” increases in the
proportions of both children with  conduct problems and those with
emotional problems, affecting girls and boys, all social classes
and all family types. The proportion with conduct problems more
than doubled between 1974 and 1999 from 6.8 per cent to 14.9
percent, and the proportion with emotional problems jumped from
10.2 per cent to 16.9 per cent.

The researchers looked at longitudinal (long-term) studies,
which showed that the changes were independent of any increase in
rates of reporting mental health problems.

In later life, people who experienced conduct problems as
teenagers were more likely to be unemployed, homeless, and
experience poor health, and were less likely to be in stable

The researchers suggest that broad social changes (such as youth
culture, and increased academic pressure) are more likely to have
caused the change than trends affecting only some children such as
the rise in the divorce rate.

Child mental health charity Young Minds said the results were
deeply worrying.  Director Barbara Hertz said, “For some
reason this seems to be happening in the UK but not in other
countries such as the US or the Netherlands. We should all be
asking what it is that we are doing to our teenagers that is so bad
for their mental health.”

Time trends in adolescent mental health. Stephan Collishaw
et al in journal of Child Psychology andPsychiatry45:8

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