Alison Johnstone MSP, health and wellbeing spokesperson for the Scottish Greens, today urged ministers to act on a major report into young people's mental health, as it shows a sharp decline in teenage girls' emotional wellbeing.
The report, Mental Health and Wellbeing among Adolescents in Scotland, highlights a Scottish Schools Survey showing that while fewer young people have conduct problems in 2013 compared to 2006, emotional problems have worsened, with 15 year old girls particularly affected. In 2010, 28 per cent of 15 year olds girls had a borderline or abnormal emotional problems score. This increased to 41 per cent in 2013.
Other surveys in the report also show girls have worse mental health and wellbeing than boys. Just 4 per cent of 15 year old girls always feeling confident, compared to 15 per cent of 15 years old boys.
Alison Johnstone MSP said:
"These are significant findings and must be investigated further. The sharp drop in emotional wellbeing of 15 year old girls in recent years is a cause for concern and we should draw on the experiences of pupils, parents and teachers to understand what is causing this and how to turn the situation around.
"In general we know that good mental health and wellbeing among young people is at risk if they have fewer friends, dislike school and feel pressured. Encouraging support networks in and out of school and helping pupils play an active part in how their school is run would seem sensible steps to pursue. The finding that girls who play sport on a weekly basis have lower levels of emotional and behavioural problems underlines the need to invest in active lifestyles in and out of school.
"Emotional wellbeing is just as important as physical health. Ensuring good mental health in young people helps them grow into resilient adults able to handle life's ups and downs."