Stress and social media fuel mental health crisis among UK girls

Stress and social media fuel mental health crisis among UK girls

Girls and young women are experiencing a “gathering crisis” in their mental health linked to conflict with friends, fears about their body image and pressures created by social media, experts have warned.

Rates of stress, anxiety and depression are rising sharply among teenage girls in what mental health specialists say is a “deeply worrying” trend that is far less pronounced among boys of the same age. They warn that the NHS lacks the resources to adequately tackle the problem.

New NHS data obtained by the Guardian reveals that the number of times a girl aged 17 or under has been admitted to hospital in England because of self-harmhas jumped from 10,500 to more than 17,500 a year over the past decade – a rise of 68%. The jump among boys was much lower: 26%.

Cases of self-poisoning among girls – ingesting pills, alcohol or other chemical substances – rose 50%, from 9,700 to 14,600 between 2005-06 and 2015-16. Similarly, the number of girls treated in hospital after cutting themselves quadrupled, from 600 to 2,400 over the same period, NHS Digital figures show.

Rising levels of “body dissatisfaction” – insecurity and low self-esteem about their appearance – have been identified as driving the unprecedented levels of mental turmoil in young women.

“There is a growing crisis in children and young people’s mental health, and in particular a gathering crisis in mental distress and depression among girls and young women,” said Dr Bernadka Dubicka, the chair of the child and adolescent faculty at the Royal College of Psychiatrists. “Emotional problems in young girls have been significantly, and very worryingly, on the rise over the past few years.”

Increasing numbers of academic studies are finding that mental health problems have been soaring among girls over the past 10 – and in particular five – years, coinciding with the period in which young people’s use of social media has exploded.

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Source: The Guardian

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