Mental health of Scottish girls in ‘concerning’ decline

THERE have been “concerning” changes in the mental health of teenage girls in Scotland, a study looking at the behaviour of young people has suggested.

The report outlines declining mental health patterns among teen girls.

Substantially more girls than boys reported psychological stress, health complaints including nervousness and low mood, and medicine use, researchers found.

The gender gap was especially wide for 15-year-olds, with 54 per cent of girls having two or more complaints more than once a week, compared to 29 per cent of boys this age. But, overall, young people in Scotland generally reported high life-satisfaction (87 per cent), the study carried out by academics at the University of St Andrews found.

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Researchers looked at the health and well-being of those aged 11, 13 and 15 over the past four years, covering their feelings and habits, including those relating to family life, school, nutrition, physical activity, body image, substance use, sexual health and bullying.

The proportion of young people who feel very happy reduced with age, from 59 per cent of 11-year-olds to 27 per cent of 15-year-olds.

About 10,800 school pupils took part in the survey, which follows studies carried out every four years since 1990 to provide trends over the 24-year period.

The findings reveal a marked decrease in smoking among 15-year-olds over the past two decades and there was also a reduction in alcohol consumption, with weekly drinking among 15-year-olds now below that reported in 1990.

Over the past four years, there was a decline in the proportion of 15-year-old girls that report having had sex (from 35 per cent to 27 per cent). Of those 15-year-olds, 24 per cent said their first intercourse was at 13 or younger.