Quarter of 14-year-old girls 'have signs of depression'

According to findings from the National Children’s Bureau (NCB), a quarter of girls in the UK show signs of depression at the age of 14. BBC Health News reports that the survey of 10,000 young people found that 14 year olds from poorer socioeconomic backgrounds are most likely to report depressive symptoms, with girls reporting more symptoms than boys. However, while the demand for mental health services are growing, child and adolescent teams are overstretched and turn away nearly a quarter of young patients referred to them. 

The report also suggested that parents may underestimate their daughters’ levels of stress, which NCB Chief Executive Anna Feuchtwang called “worrying”. She added: “With a quarter of 14-year-old girls showing signs of depression, it's now beyond doubt that this problem is reaching crisis point. It's vital that both children and their parents can make their voices heard to maximise the chances of early identification and access to specialist support." 

Experts say early intervention and preventions services are vital, as half of all cases of adult mental illness start by the age of 14.

Dr Marc Bush, from the charity Young Minds, said: "We know that teenage girls face a huge range of pressures, including stress at school, body image issues, bullying and the pressure created by social media.

"Difficult experiences in childhood, including bereavement, domestic violence or neglect, can also have a serious impact, often several years down the line.

To make matters worse, it can be extremely difficult for teenagers to get the right support if they're struggling to cope.

That's why it's crucial that mental health services are properly funded, with a focus on early intervention."

The importance of early intervention services for mental health are highlighted in the RCPCH’s State of Child Health report, as well as the need to support children to develop resilience through lessons delivered as part of the curriculum. You can read the State of Child Health report on our website