Mental ill-health of children and young people

New research shows a quarter of girls (24%) and one in 10 boys (9%) are depressed at age 14. | National Childrens Bureau

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Researchers from the UCL Institute of Education and the University of Liverpool have analysed information on more than 10,000 children born in 2000-01 who are taking part in the Millennium Cohort Study. This briefing provides details of the mental health among this cohort.

The findings show that while the majority of 3-14-year-olds in the UK are not suffering from mental ill-health, a substantial proportion experience significant difficulties. Being from a poorer background or being of mixed or white ethnic background appeared to raise the risk.

Full briefing: Mental ill-health among children of the new century

See also: National Childrens Bureau|  NHS England | BBC News

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Young people’s views on gender, emotional well-being and mental health

This report presents young people’s views on how they cope with difficulties and seek help, with a focus on the role of gender | National Children’s Bureau

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Image source: NCB

Our surveys and face-to-face engagement with more than 100 young people generated some key findings:

  •  Some healthy ways of managing stress are widely acceptable to both male and female young people we surveyed: for example, having fun and exercising.
  •  Young people are very aware of expectations on boys and men to appear strong and not show emotion.
  •  Sharing problems with others seems more widely acceptable among the young women than young men, although not as clearly as common stereotypes might suggest.
  • Some girls and young women described feeling that their difficulties are belittled by adults when they try to seek support. They perceived assumptions that girls’ distress is due to overemotional reactions to minor issues with friendships and relationships. Some girls and young women expressed uncertainty about trusting female friends, although other females were an important source of support.
  • The few trans young people we heard from did feel that gender stereotypes affected how they cope and sought help, to different degrees and in different ways. Two commented on the need for greater professional understanding of gender identity.
  • The areas in which the young people most wanted to see greater gender-sensitivity were information about support available; support within settings like schools, youth clubs and youth offending institutions; and how professionals relate to young people

Read the full report here

Social media abuse affects almost half of girls in UK

Nearly half (48%) of girls aged 11-18 in the UK and two-fifths of boys have experienced some form of harassment or abuse on social media | OnMedica

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Image source: Plan

The findings, based on a survey commissioned by girls’ rights charity Plan International UK, have prompted fears that young people, and girls in particular, are being forced to withdraw from social media due to fear of criticism, harassment or abuse. The charity today launches the #girlsbelonghere campaign to tackle the problem.

The survey revealed boys are significantly less likely than girls to experience abuse, with 40% reporting a negative experience. They are also less likely (59%) to take evasive actions to avoid being criticised such as refraining from posting on social media or holding back their opinions.

For the survey, research agency Opinium contacted 1,002 young people aged 11-18. Some 235 of the 486 girls and 202 of the 510 boys who responded reported online abuse.

Big rise in male hospital admissions due to eating disorders

An analysis of NHS Digital data by The Guardian shows the number of men being hospitalised with an eating disorder has risen by 70% since 2011 | OnMedica

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It reveals that the number of hospital diagnoses in male over-19s rose from 480 in 2010-2011 to 818 between April 2015 and March 2016.

The rate of increase was slightly higher among older men, at 70% for the 41-60 age group, compared with 67% in the 26-40 category and 63% among 19- to 25-year-olds. In the same period, there was a 61% increase among women aged 19 to 25 and a 76% rise among middle-aged women.

Dr William Rhys Jones, from the Royal College of Psychiatrists’ eating disorders faculty, told the newspaper that pressure for body perfection is on the rise for men of all ages, which is a risk factor for developing an eating disorder. “Images of unhealthy male body ideals in the media place unnecessary pressure on vulnerable people who strive for acceptance through the way they look.”

Read the full commentary here

Male eating disorders rise

There has been an increase across the UK of men and boys suffering from eating disorders, according to research by BBC Panorama | BBC News

There has also been a rise in the number of under-18s seeking help. But less is spent on services to treat people of both genders with eating disorders in Wales than in England, a BBC Wales investigation found.

The UK’s largest eating disorder charity, Beat, said people with eating disorders “deserved better”. Panorama investigated the scale of the problem across the UK by asking every mental health trust and board how many men were referred to eating disorder services for a first assessment. From those that responded, it showed in 2016 there were 871 referrals, an increase from 2014 of 43%.

It also found a 42% rise in under-18s of both genders receiving help in 2016 compared to 2014, as well as a postcode lottery when it came to waiting times with lengths varying from less than a week to almost a year.

Read the full news story here

Causes of severe antisocial behavior may differ for boys and girls

The causes of severe antisocial behaviour may differ between boys and girls, which could pave the way for new sex-specific treatments, according to a major new study | ScienceDaily

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Using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)-techniques to map the brains of over 200 teenagers aged 14 — 18 years, researchers from the University of Bath (UK) and several other European universities conducted the most comprehensive study ever to analyse differences in brain development between children with conduct disorder (CD) and a group of typically-developing children (the control group).

Findings from the study, which involved 96 young people with CD and 104 typically-developing young people, are published today in the  Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.

They show that the brain’s prefrontal cortex — the region responsible for long-term planning, decision-making, and impulse control — is thinner in boys and girls with CD compared to typically-developing boys and girls, and that young people with more severe forms of the condition have more abnormal brain structure.

Gender Differences in Depression

Salk, R. et al. Psychological Bulletin | Published online: 27 April 2017

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In 2 meta-analyses on gender differences in depression in nationally representative samples, we advance previous work by including studies of depression diagnoses and symptoms to

(a) estimate the magnitude of the gender difference in depression across a wide array of nations and ages;

(b) use a developmental perspective to elucidate patterns of gender differences across the life span; and

(c) incorporate additional theory-driven moderators (e.g., gender equity).

The gender difference for diagnoses emerged earlier than previously thought, with OR = 2.37 at age 12. For both meta-analyses, the gender difference peaked in adolescence (OR = 3.02 for ages 13–15, and d = 0.47 for age 16) but then declined and remained stable in adulthood. Cross-national analyses indicated that larger gender differences were found in nations with greater gender equity, for major depression, but not depression symptoms. The gender difference in depression represents a health disparity, especially in adolescence, yet the magnitude of the difference indicates that depression in men should not be overlooked

Read the abstract here