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As young people, we seem to be struggling with our mental health at the moment. So many of us are battling anxiety, stress, depression, lack of self-confidence or disordered eating.

Schools feel like they are full of tension, with many of us operating in survival mode, doing our best just to get through the day. For those of us dealing with high levels of anxiety, it can be really debilitating, at times preventing us from enjoying small things like hanging out with friends, being out in social situations, or even getting enough sleep.

Jigsaw, an amazing organisation who do loads of work on youth mental health in Ireland, have done extensive research with over 19,000 participants, and yesterday released a report on exactly how we’re doing as a country when it comes to our young people and their mental health.

Lets start with the positives…

  • 76% of respondents said they had at least one good adult in their lives, which is vital to their self-esteem, confidence and security (up 5% since 2012).
  • Incidents of reported bullying have fallen from 45% in 2012 to 39%, (which is very encouraging for us at Shona).
  • Fewer teens are drinking alcohol, moving from 51% of teens to 42%. Worryingly though, 6% may have an alcohol dependence.
  • Us girls (63%) are more likely to talk about our problems than the boys (56%).

And now for the worrying bits…

  • The number of young people suffering from anxiety has doubled since the last survey was conducted in 2012, with 22% of 12-19 year olds reporting severe or very severe anxiety.
  • Females are more likely to suffer with severe or very severe anxiety, and males report significantly higher self-esteem, optimism and life satisfaction than females.
  • Factors such as sleep, physical activity, social media use and pornography use are also strongly associated with depression and anxiety.
  • Females are more likely to report being online for more than three hours per day (38% vs 33% male), and while we report that we use this time mostly to connect with friends, the amount of time we spend online tends to correlate with anxiety levels.

 

Rachel White, a member of Jigsaws Youth advisory board says “The question we should really be asking ourselves is are we ready as a nation to step up and take up collective responsibility for our young people’s mental health and the answer should be, and must be, a loud and emphatic yes.”

So where do we go from here? Its hard to know, but for sure, recognising the size of the problem is a very important first step.

Keep talking, keep sharing and stay connected, because together we are stronger.