Mental health: One in four young women strugglingIvy Madziva
Nearly one in four young women has a mental illness, with emotional problems such as depression and anxiety the most common, figures for England show.
The official NHS report found young women aged 17 to 19 were twice as likely as young men to have problems, with 23.9% reporting a disorder.
Problems are less common in younger age groups, but are rising, albeit slowly.
In children aged five to 15, one in nine had a disorder, up from one in 10 when the review was done 13 years ago.
The findings are based on a survey of more than 9,000 young people.
The results have been gathered by statistics body NHS Digital and assessed by experts to try to ensure only diagnosable conditions are included.
Dr Bernadka Dubicka, of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, said the numbers of young women with problems was “alarming”.
She said body image pressures, exam stress and the negative effects of social media may all affect girls disproportionately, while they were also more likely to be victims of abuse and sexual assault.
“We can only speculate. We still do not fully understand this – all we know is that we see more girls in our clinics.
“We have to make sure services are available for them.”
It comes as the Children’s Commissioner for England warned there was a “vast gap” in NHS mental health support.
Anne Longfield’s report criticised slow progress made in improving specialist community services for children.
She said waiting times were too long and she was concerned about numbers being rejected by services in some areas.
Nearly half of those in their late teens with mental health problems had self-harmed or attempted suicide. For younger teens it was about a quarter.
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