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Social media, pushy parents and peer pressure to blame for rise in depression in teenage girls


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A government study into the mental wellbeing of teenagers, seen by The Times, has found that the number of girls aged 14 to 15 experiencing symptoms of mental ill health has risen 10% in a decade.

The study, which examined the mental wellbeing of 30,000 teenagers, also found that girls from more affluent backgrounds and those whose parents attended university are more likely to experience symptoms of deteriorating mental health.

Experts claim that social media, pushy parents and peer pressure are among the factors which contribute to the rise, which appears mostly among girls, who were twice as likely as boys to experience symptoms. 1 in 3 girls experience symptoms like a feeling of low self-worth and lack of concentration, but boys and girls who had parents educated to a degree level were 5% more likely to experience distress.

The study found that teenagers’ backgrounds has a significant impact in determining whether they would experience psychological distress. For example, it was suggested that teenagers from a less privileged background had “lower levels of expectation for school success and lower levels of associated pressure”, but that they were more capable of handling stress having experienced more disadvantages in their life, according to the report from the Department for Education survey.

Campaigns Manager from YoungMinds, Nick Harrop, told the Huffington Post UK that social media puts pressure on girls to “live their lives in the public domain, to present a personal ‘brand’ from a young age, and to seek reassurance in the form of likes and shares”.

Harrop also noted that girls in particular face “a huge range of pressures”, many of which boys don’t necessarily experience including “body image worries” and “stress at school”. He also highlighted problems which affect boys and girls such as “bullying on and offline” and “uncertainty about the future after school”, which are all “piling on the stress”.

Researchers also wrote: “While girls were already displaying greater levels of psychological distress than boys in 2005, it is striking that their situation worsened between 2005 and 2014”. This can possibly be attributed to the growth in users on social media sites such a Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

In a poll for the Young Minds Matter series, 81% of parents surveyed blamed social media for the mental health problems their children were vulnerable to.

With an extra £41 billion committed towards young people’s mental health, it is important that is it used to help those in need who may remain quiet when affected by mental health problems.

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