Young people in Ireland are suffering from higher levels of anxiety than previous generations, according to a new study.
The report is titled My World Survey 2 (MWS-2) and is the largest ever study of the mental health of Ireland’s young people.
It has continued and updated results from the 2012 report My World Survey 1 (MWS-1).
The 2019 survey showed that the number of 12-19-year-olds in Ireland that suffer from severe anxiety has doubled from 11% to 22% since 2012.
The MWS-2 also showed an increase in severe anxiety among 18-25-year-olds from 15% in 2012 to 26% today.
There was an increase in the percentage of young people suffering from severe or very severe depression, with the figure rising from 8% in 2012 to 15% in 2019.
The survey paints a bleak outlook for the trajectory of young people’s mental health but there are some results that could show a light at the end of the tunnel.
Fewer young people in the MWS-2 survey reported being bullied (39%) compared with 45% of respondents in the MWS-1 survey.
There was an increase in the number of ‘good adults’ in the average young person’s life.
However, the average result was worryingly low with 76% of MWS-2 respondents saying they had one good adult in their life, although that was a 5% increase on the average total in the MWS-1 survey.
In most cases, the one good adult was the respondent’s mother.
Youngsters are more likely to seek support from a family member in 2019 (42%) than they were in 2012 (33%).
Respondents to the more recent MWS-2 survey were also more likely to seek professional help for mental health issues, with 24% saying they would be willing to do so, compared with 15% in 2012.
Dr Joseph Duffy is CEO of Jigsaw, which is the National Centre for Youth Mental Health.
He said: “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.
“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.
“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.”
Written by Michael Kehoe @michaelcalling