Poor mental health is more prevalent among teenage girls from less advantaged backgrounds

Child of the New Century is helping make the case for better mental health services by raising awareness of the number of young people it affects.

New findings from CNC have revealed that teenage girls from less well-off families are more likely to experience mental ill-health than their more advantaged peers.

For this study, researchers looked at your responses to the age 14 survey. They found that certain factors, such as being overweight, not getting along with peers and being bullied, were associated with high depressive symptoms for boys and girls at age 14.

Accounting for mental health in childhood, at age 14 girls from homes with lower family income were more likely to report poorer mental health and lower wellbeing than their better-off peers. However, family income did not appear to be a significant factor in predicting boys’ mental health or wellbeing at this age.

Girls who reported enjoying primary school and being engaged in their studies were less likely to have higher depressive symptoms at age 14.

Mental ill-health and poor wellbeing do not always go hand in hand: a large proportion of young people experienced low wellbeing despite not having high depressive symptoms; and a very small proportion of individuals, mainly boys, experienced good wellbeing in the presence of mental ill-health.

Dr Praveetha Patalay, from the University of Liverpool said “We found a substantial link between being overweight and being depressed. Rates of both overweight and mental ill-health are increasing in childhood, and they both have enormous consequences through our lives. Tackling these two health issues should be a public health priority, and efforts to prevent each are likely to have positive consequences on the other.”

This new research is a follow-up to earlier findings from the CNC age 14 survey, which showed that almost one in four girls, and one in ten boys, experience high levels of depressive symptoms.