World Mental Health Day 2019: Nearly one in five young people say they are not happy, study finds

Emotional wellbeing of teenage girls more likely to be negatively impacted by bullying than teenage boys

Sabrina Barr
Thursday 10 October 2019 09:49 BST

Nearly one in five young people say they are not happy with their lives, the government’s first “State of the Nation” report on children’s wellbeing has found.

For the report, which has been published to coincide with World Mental Health Day on Thursday 10 October, 7,000 young people aged between 10 and 24 were questioned about their mental wellbeing.

According to the findings of the report, 82.9 per cent of those surveyed reported having a high or very high life satisfaction.

Meanwhile, 94 per cent of children said they felt happy with their family, 91.6 per cent said they felt happy with their friends and 94.5 per cent reported feeling in good or very good health.

One of the key reasons for reported unhappiness or poor mental wellbeing among the respondents was bullying, including cyberbullying.

One in five young people aged between 16 and 24 said they had experienced high levels of anxiety, even when they rated their overall happiness and wellbeing highly.

The research found the emotional wellbeing of teenage girls was more likely to be negatively impacted by bullying than teenage boys.

Young girls were more likely to report incidents of cyberbullying than their male counterparts.

Other factors that also had an especially strong impact on the emotional wellbeing of teenage girls was spending time with friends and getting enough sleep.

However, social media was not found to have a significant effect on the psychological health of adolescent girls.

Professor Peter Fonagy, CEO of child mental health research organisation the Anna Freud Centre, explained the importance of the study’s findings.

“It’s heartening that four out of five children are happy. However, we cannot ignore the fact that one in five children are not,” Professor Fonagy said.

“We should be pleased that so many young people are resilient to the pressures of 21st Century life, and be both prepared to stand by and support those who struggle.”

Health secretary Matt Hancock added children should feel “valued, supported and listened to” from a young age.

“It is encouraging this report finds the majority of our young people are happy, but our mental health is an asset – just like our physical health, so it is vital children get the support they need,” Mr Hancock stated.

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“We are training a new dedicated mental health workforce in schools and colleges across the country, to ensure quicker access to a range of support and treatments, as well as teaching pupils what good mental health and physical health looks like.”

The publication of the report delivers on a governmental commitment made this time last year to publish a report on an annual basis that explores the mental health of young people.

In addition to the report, guidance is also being offered in schools so the wellbeing of students is being looked after and monitored.

If you are in need of mental health support, you can contact the free Samaritans helpline on 116 123, email or visit to find details of your nearest branch.

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