'Significant' increase in the number of young people with anxiety, study finds
There has been a significant increase in levels of anxiety among young people, a new study has found.
My World Survey 2 (MWS-2) is the largest ever study of the mental health of Ireland’s youth. The survey, which is a follow up and extension of 2012’s My World Survey 1 (MWS-1), consulted with more than 19,000 young people across Ireland to build and improve on collective knowledge in the area of youth mental health.
The study found that the number of adolescents, aged 12 to 19, reporting severe anxiety has doubled from 11 per cent (from MWS-1) to 22% per cent (MWS-2) .
Meanwhile, levels of reported severe anxiety in young adults, aged 18 to 25, has seen an increase of 11 per cent, from 15 per cent in MWS-1 to 26 per cent in MWS-2.
The study notes that while there has been an increase in many risk factors, there has also been an increase in protective factors - most notably in family support or support from a significant adult.
In MWS-2 76 per cent of adolescents reported they had a One Good Adult â in their lives, which is an increase of 5 per cent compared to MWS-1.
Adolescents reported that the main OGA in their lives was a parent, most often the mother.
Young adults in MWS-2 were more likely to seek support from family (42 per cent) compared to MWS-1 (33 per cent), again indicating the importance of family for young people.
According to the report, there was an increase in the proportion of adolescents who fell into the severe and very severe categories for depression, from 8 per cent in MWS-1 to 15 per cent in MWS-2.
Adolescents in MWS-2 (42 per cent) were also less likely to report that they coped well with problems than those in MWS-1 (49 per cent), and were less likely (MWS-2 59 per cent) to report talking about their problems (MWS-1 66 per cent).
However, there was a decrease, from 45 per cent in MWS-1 to 39 per cent in MWS-2, in the proportion of adolescents who reported being bullied and fewer adolescents reported having ever drank alcohol, 51 per cent in MWS-1 to 42 per cent in MWS-2.
Similar to the adolescent group, there was an increase in the proportion of young adults who fell into the severe and very severe categories for depression, from 14 per cent in MWS-1 to 21 per cent in MWS-2.
Young adults in MWS-2 (33 per cent) were also more likely to report having deliberately hurt themselves without wanting to take their own life than those in MWS-1 (22 per cent).
However, as with the adolescent group, young adults in MWS-2 (56 per cent) were less likely to report being bullied than those in MWS-1 (62 per cent).
Young adults in MWS-2 (24 per cent) who reported having some problems were also more likely to seek professional help for these problems than those in MWS-1 (15 per cent).
“While the last decade has seen a considerable growth in awareness and conversation about young people’s mental health, what is evident from the data from today’s report, is that more needs to be done to address the main issues affecting our young people," Dr Joseph Duffy, CEO of Jigsaw, the National Centre for Youth Mental Health commented.
"The increased levels of anxiety and depression, the decreased levels of self-esteem, optimism and life-satisfaction and growing trends of self-harm are of particular concern. However, what is clear is that the publication of My World Survey 2 is vitally important. It gives us new insights into, and a better understanding of, young people's mental health and wellbeing," he continued. "It can be, and must be, instrumental in building and improving our collective knowledge in the area of youth mental health and in establishing new responses. This is opportunity at hand; one we all must grasp."