Girls as young as 10 are suffering stress, anxiety and unhappiness as they struggle to cope with the pressures of growing up, according to research published today.
Dr Andrew McCulloch, chief executive of the Mental Health Foundation, said: "Girls and young women are being forced to grow up at an unnatural pace in a society that we, as adults, have created and it's damaging their emotional well-being. We have a responsibility to put this right – we must tackle head-on the difficulties that the younger generation are facing."
Emotional well-being is being harmed by factors such as premature sexualisation and materialism, the study, A Generation Under Stress?, by Girlguiding UK and the Mental Health Foundation found. A sixth of the girls polled, aged 10 to 15, said they often feel anger, while half feel angry some of the time. Almost two-thirds said they sometimes feel sad, with half finding sadness difficult to cope with.
When it comes to mental health, half said they know someone who has suffered depression, two-fifths know someone who has self-harmed, a third have a friend who has suffered an eating disorder and two in five know someone who has had panic attacks.
The research was carried out using an online survey of 350 girls and eight separate focus groups involving 54 girls.