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Still from Prozac Nation (2001)

Teenage girls in the UK feel ‘worthless’ and ‘unhappy’

More than a third of girls in England suffer from depression and anxiety, claims new study

We’ve seen some seriously damning studies on the British mental health system over the last 12 months. Thanks to government cuts and soaring social pressures, the UK is now home to some of the unhappiest young people in the world; with self-harm and suicide on the rise, self-confidence in freefall, and student anxiety higher than ever

If all that wasn’t enough, a major new survey from the Department for Education has revealed that more than a third of teenage girls in the UK now suffer from depression and anxiety. According to stats obtained by the organisation, 37 per cent of female 14-year-olds feel unhappy, worthless, or unable to concentrate – which is double the amount compared to boys of the same age. 

The figure has seen a four per cent rise since the survey was last carried out in 2005, with negative feelings particularly prominent among young people living in single-parent households or with stepfamilies. They were also magnified when participants had a disability or long-standing illness.  

“Children’s mental health is a priority for this government and we know that intervening early can have a lasting impact,” assured a spokesman for the Department for Education. “We are putting a record £1.4bn into transforming the dedicated mental health support available to young people across the country and are working to strengthen the links between schools and mental health services.”

“We are driving forward innovations to improve prevention and early support, by investing £1.5m on peer-support networks in schools so children feel empowered to help one another.”

Surprisingly, the report also revealed that teens were much more well-behaved than their 2005 counterparts. All teens interviewed were “markedly” less likely to smoke, drink or take drugs; with only 12 per cent admitting to drinking alcohol, compared to 30 per cent in 2005. 

Despite this, Marjorie Wallace, the chief executive of the mental health charity Sane, stressed that the study should be taken as a warning. “Over the period covered by the report we have seen a very disturbing change in admissions to hospital for self-harm in under-16s that have gone up by 52 per cent,” she told The Times. “There definitely does seem to be something happening – it’s a slow- growing epidemic.”