Earlier school start times may increase risk of adolescent depression and anxiety

Teenagers with school starting times before 8:30 a.m. may be at particular risk of experiencing depression and anxiety due to compromised sleep quality, according to a recent study. | Sleep Health 2017 | story via ScienceDaily


The findings of this study provide additional evidence in the debate over how school start times impact adolescent health.  The study,  published in the journal Sleep Health found that Teenagers who start school before 8:30 a.m. are at higher risk of depression and anxiety, even if they’re doing everything else right to get a good night’s sleep.

The authors used an online tool to collect data from 197 students across the USA between the ages of 14 and 17. All children and parents completed a baseline survey that included questions about the child’s level of sleep hygiene, family socioeconomic status,  and their school start times. They were separated into two groups: those who started school before 8:30 a.m. and those who started after 8:30 a.m.

Over a period of seven days, the students were instructed to keep a sleep diary, in which they reported specifically on their daily sleep hygiene, levels of sleep quality and duration, and their depressive/anxiety symptoms.

The results showed that good baseline sleep hygiene was directly associated with lower average daily depressive/anxiety symptoms across all students, and the levels were even lower in students with school start times after 8:30. However, students with good baseline sleep hygiene and earlier school start times had higher average daily depressive/anxiety symptoms.

Link to the research:  Peltz, J. S. et al. A process-oriented model linking adolescents’ sleep hygiene and psychological functioning: the moderating role of school start times  Sleep Health

Full story at ScienceDaily


New ways to treat depression in teenagers

By Ian Michael Goodyer (University of Cambridge) for The Conversation | Published online: 6 March 2017

Image source: Mary Lock – Flickr // CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Around one in 20 teenagers suffers from depression. Episodes can last for several months. Unfortunately, about 50% of teenagers who have a depressive episode are at risk of falling ill again, increasing the likelihood of relationship difficulties, educational failure and poor employment prospects. It’s important that treatments have a lasting effect to reduce the risk of becoming ill a second time.

My research investigates the causes of and treatments for adolescent mental illnesses, with a particular focus on depression. One of our key projects is evaluating the importance of various psychological treatments that are effective in helping young people with depression.

Only one treatment – cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) – is approved by the UK’s National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) for treating depression in teenagers. Unfortunately, there is a shortage of CBT therapists in the UK. This means that many young people with depression are placed on a waiting list, increasing their risk of worsening mental health.

Read the full blog post here



Young people’s usage of online platforms has drastically increased. By 2010, the vast majority of 9-16 year olds in the UK (96%) reported going online at least weekly. At YoungMinds we offer training opportunities which support you to support the young people you work with, by understanding their digital lives.


In a report published last year for Safer Internet Day 2015, 55% of 11- 16 year olds said they use technology to interact with their closest friends several times an hour. Sixty per cent said they’d be lonely if they couldn’t talk to friends via technology.

As Resilience for a Digital World reports, the membership of social networking sites has also seen a sharp increase over the same period, with two thirds of 9-16 year internet users holding at least one account; rising to 92% of 15-16 year olds.

These statistics are dramatic, with social media presenting perhaps the single greatest influence on the social lives of young people.

Image source: byung chul kim


With new opportunities, come new risks. Significantly, the majority of young people involved in the survey said they’ve occasionally experienced someone being mean to them (51%) or their friend (59%) online.

Last year’s ChildLine report revealed an 87% increase in counselling about online bullying over the past three years

And as Jessica’s blog for us shows, these incidences of cyberbullying can have severely negative, sustained impacts on the mental health of young people.


As well as publishing the report, YoungMinds has already run a successful online campaign called #MatesMatter, to grow awareness among young people of how they can look out for their friends online.

However, how can we – as professionals, parents and carers who work with young people – ensure that we continue to provide relevant support in an increasingly digital age?


YoungMinds’ training course on Teens, Technology and Mental Health has been created to improve your understanding of the impact of technology on mental health, helping you to learn the best techniques for supporting the young people you work with and how to support a resilience building approach to use of technology and the internet.


This interactive course challenges perceptions of social media use, and offers opportunities to explore the positive impact that this may have on mental health, as well as potential detrimental effects.

Participants will have the opportunity to explore social media, films, websites and apps to further their understanding of technology, young people and mental health.


  • Different technologies and how young people use them
  • Risks and benefits to emotional well-being including on-line safety and on-line support
  • Useful websites supporting mental health
  • Bullying, cyber-bullying and how to develop positive anti-cyberbullying policies and practice
  • The resilience framework and technology- using technology to promote resilience in young people
  • Tools which you can use to address the risks and increase the benefits of technology for young people.

Read the full blog post here

Video games and conduct disorder in teenage years

1) Research article: Etchells, P. et al. Prospective Investigation of Video Game Use in Children and Subsequent Conduct Disorder and Depression Using Data from the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children. PLOS One. Published: January 28, 2016

Abstract: There is increasing public and scientific concern regarding the long-term behavioural effects of video game use in children, but currently little consensus as to the nature of any such relationships. We investigated the relationship between video game use in children, degree of violence in games, and measures of depression and a 6-level banded measure of conduct disorder. Data from the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children were used. A 3-level measure of game use at age 8/9 years was developed, taking into account degree of violence based on game genre. Associations with conduct disorder and depression, measured at age 15, were investigated using ordinal logistic regression, adjusted for a number of potential confounders. Shoot-em-up games were associated with conduct disorder bands, and with a binary measure of conduct disorder, although the strength of evidence for these associations was weak. A sensitivity analysis comparing those who play competitive games to those who play shoot-em-ups found weak evidence supporting the hypothesis that it is violence rather than competitiveness that is associated with conduct disorder. However this analysis was underpowered, and we cannot rule out the possibility that increasing levels of competition in games may be just as likely to account for the observed associations as violent content. Overall game exposure as indicated by number of games in a household was not related to conduct disorder, nor was any association found between shoot-em-up video game use and depression.

2) Science Media Centre. Expert reaction to study reporting weak association between playing certain types of video games in childhood and risk of conduct disorder in teenage years. Published:  January 28, 2016.

Dr Max Davie, Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, said:

“This paper uses the best available data to place the debate around video games and behavioural problems on a scientific, evidence-based footing.

“In doing so, they have busted some important myths. The overall amount of games played is not associated with adverse outcomes. The association between violent games and behavioural problems is weak, and only possibly causal.

“We know that all children play games. As a developmental paediatrician, the families that worry me are those that are unable to set boundaries about what games are appropriate, leading to exposure to 18 certificate games. However these are also families who struggle to set boundaries more generally. This is itself associated with later behavioural problems, and may be one of the residual confounders mentioned by the authors.

“Rather than scapegoat video games generally, it would be more sensible to focus on educating and supporting families to understand the certificate system, empowering and training parents to set boundaries, and getting retailers and publishers to show responsibility in marketing and selling violent games. That way, I may never again have to tell an outraged 8-year-old that he’s not allowed to pay Grand Theft Auto, while his mother looks on impotently.”

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