Rise in 15-year-old Scottish girls experiencing mental health problems, new research finds

There has been a striking increase in the number of 15-year-old girls in Scotland experiencing emotional and mental health problems, new research has found.

A Scottish Government report highlighted the noticeable difference in the results for this particular age and gender group compared with other demographic groups. It said this group appears to be "suffering much poorer mental health".

The findings have prompted Jamie Hepburn, Minister for Mental Health, to "look carefully" at the research which follows the Government's recent announcement of £100 million of funding for mental health services over the next five years, some of which will be used to improve child mental health services.

"We know that the patterns and prevalence of different mental health problems through childhood and adolescence vary according to age, gender and deprivation. It is essential that services match their interventions to this dynamic background. We have seen a significant increase in the number of young people asking for help with their mental health in recent years, which may be attributable to greater awareness and lower stigma."

The Mental Health and Wellbeing among Adolescents in Scotland report looked at trends and key associations for the mental health of boys and girls aged 13 and 15 between 2006 and 2013.

The report found that in 2010, 28 per cent of 15-year-old girls had a "borderline or abnormal emotional problems score" which increased to 41 per cent in 2013.

It also found that friendships and a positive experience of school were the two things most closely aligned with mental wellbeing. Other factors with a close positive association were expecting to go to university and belonging to a club.

The research revealed higher levels of deprivation and poorer physical health both correlated with lower levels of mental wellbeing, but that levels of mental wellbeing have remained "largely stable" since 2006. However, emotional and peer relationship problems have worsened, which the report found was "largely attributable" to the increase in the numbers of the 15-year-old girls reporting emotional problems.