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Mental health of teenagers

Report looks at biggest factors for young people

Relationships with friends, playing sport at least once a week and reading books all have a positive effect on mental wellbeing in teenagers, according to a new report.

Mental Health and Wellbeing among Adolescents in Scotland, published today, looks at trends and key associations for the mental health of boys and girls aged 13 and 15.

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

Higher levels of deprivation and poorer physical health both correlate with lower levels of mental wellbeing.

Overall, levels of mental wellbeing have remained largely stable since 2006. Conduct problems, hyperactivity and inattention and social behaviour have improved since 2006. Emotional and peer relationship problems have worsened, which is largely attributable to an increase in the numbers of 15-year-old girls reporting emotional problems.

Jamie Hepburn, Minister for Sport, Health Improvement and Mental Health, said:

“I welcome this report, which contains useful data that will improve our understanding of why some teenagers experience poor mental health. It’s encouraging to see positive movements in several measures of mental wellbeing, including hyperactivity, conduct problems and social behaviour.

“Child and Adolescent Mental health is a key priority for the Scottish Government. We have recently announced an additional £100 million of funding for mental health services over the next five years. Some of this will be directed towards further improving child and adolescent mental health services. This is on top of a £19.8 million investment since 2009/10 that has led to a 70 per cent increase in the number of specialist psychologists working in this area.

“Every school in Scotland has access to a specialist in mental health, who can be contacted for advice and on-going support if teachers have concerns about any pupils.

“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.

“The apparent increase in the number of 15-year-old girls who are experiencing emotional problems is something that we will look at carefully. 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.”


Mental Health and wellbeing among Adolescents in Scotland was compiled by Ipsos MORI using data from the Scottish Schools Adolescent Lifestyle and Substance Use Survey (SALSUS) 2006-2013. The full report can be read here:


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