Home, school and social media pressures contributing to teenage depression, Suffolk health bosses say

Around one in four girls show significant signs of depression by the age of 14, new research has fou

Around one in four girls show significant signs of depression by the age of 14, new research has found. Picture: KatarzynaBialasiewicz - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Health bosses in Suffolk have said it is vital for youngsters to be able to reach out for support after new research has revealed that nearly a quarter of girls show significant symptoms of depression by the age of 14 – with pressures at home, school and social media among contributing factors.

Research published by the UCL Institute for Education revealed that by the age of 14, when youngsters were able to report their own symptoms, 24% of girls were suffering from “high symptoms of depression” compared to 9% of their male peers.

Health services in Suffolk said they worked hard to ensure youngsters could access support as well as adults, but pressures at home or school as well as finances and social media issues could cause symptoms.

Margaret Little, deputy director of operations in Suffolk at Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust which runs mental health services, said: “Anxiety, depression and low mood are the most common emotional wellbeing and mental health issues young people face.

“Events at home, school and within peer groups can be the backdrop to these. Life can be complicated by the pressures young people and their families experience such as financial burden, social media and physical health issues.

“Keeping up open communication with a young person is really important. A variety of emotions can be part of everyday life; however, if a young person is frequently and significantly affected then help might be needed.”

Among the measures made available were advice from the Wellbeing Service where a range of therapies were available, while the ChatHealth text-based service through school nurses allowed youngsters to get guidance on mental health issues.

A five year plan for children and young people’s emotional health and wellbeing is already underway, with a multi-agency wellbeing hub set to be established.

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A Suffolk County Council spokesman added: “Suffolk County Council is working closely with CCGs and providers to deliver the five year children and young people emotional wellbeing and mental health improvement plans, and as part of this provides a suite of training for staff in schools and other services in mental health awareness and how to identify and respond to concerns when they arise.”

A front line mental health professional worked alongside schools and The Source Suffolk website also helped youngsters reach the help they need.

A spokesman from Ipswich and East Suffolk and West Suffolk NHS Clinical Commissioning groups, which commission primary health services, added: “It is important that our young people have the very best start in life and in Suffolk they and their families are able to access a good range of services to support their mental health needs.

“Both CCGs work with the Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (NSFT) to deliver the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS) which provides comprehensive mental health support to young people.

“Through the Suffolk Wellbeing service, also provided by NSFT, a primary mental health worker service supports local schools and GP practices in providing front-line support and guidance for young people’s emotional wellbeing.”

For more information, visit the website here or call 0300 123 1781.

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