Teen Years

Research finds increase in ‘depressive tendencies’ for teenagers

A new study has found a decline in the wellbeing and mental health in teenagers in Ireland, leading to an increase in ‘depressive tendencies’.

The research, based on adolescent mental health and adversity, was carried out by Unesco Child and Family Research Centre and School of Psychology. 

Participants of the study included over 15,000 adolescents, in their 4th year of secondary school in Galway, Mayo and Roscommon, between 2018 and 2022. 

The study found connections between teenagers who experience adversity at home or in school settings and self-harm behaviours. 

It was discovered that, overall, wellbeing and mental health among the teenagers in the west of Ireland declined from 2018-2022, while depressive tendencies increased. 

Adversity was found to be a ‘key risk factor for self-harm and poor mental health’ for the Transition Year students.

Approximately 32% of the surveyed adolescents reported that they had self harmed at some point in their life.

Girls and non-binary teens were more likely to self-harm when compared to boys. Girls and non-binary teens also ‘experience poorer mental health outcomes’.

13% of the young people who are unlikely to experience adversity were likely to have self-harmed at some point in their life. 

Teens who experience adversity in the parental context are approximately 3 times more likely to self harm, compared to those who do not experience adversity.  

82% of those who experienced adversity in several ways such as parental and peer, were likely to self harm compared to the low-adversity group. 

Conclusions of the research revealed, “Findings suggest that adolescents who experience adversity within a single domain (e.g., at home OR with peers) consistently show poorer mental health outcomes, and higher rates of self-harm, than youth who do not experience adversity”.

But, “Adolescents who experience adversity across multiple social domains (e.g., at home, with peers AND in school) are most at risk, and should be a priority target for intervention and prevention”.

Factors such as sleep, feeling safe at school, parental support, physical activity and friend support help to encourage better mental health.  

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