The following is excerpted from an online article posted by MedicalXpress.
There was a substantial increase in emotional problems among young people in Wales in the years immediately before the pandemic, research from Cardiff University shows.
In the article, “Trends in adolescent emotional problems in Wales between 2013 and 2019: the contribution of peer relationships,” published in the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, academics studied data collected from more than 200,000 young people aged 11–16 in Wales.
The results, which compare responses taken between 2013 and 2019, show the number experiencing emotional symptoms associated with anxiety or depression increased over time, with the proportion of young people with high numbers of emotional problems rising from 23% to 38% over a six-year period. Emotional symptoms reported in the survey include feeling low, irritable, nervous and having sleep difficulties.
Friendship quality and experiencing any form of bullying were strongly associated with higher emotional problems in all three surveys, but these trends did not account for the sharp increase in emotional problems over time.
Lead author Dr. Rebecca Anthony, based at Cardiff University’s Center for the Development, Evaluation, Complexity and Implementation in Public Health Improvement (DECIPHer) and Wolfson Center for young People’s Mental Health said, “This study provides evidence of a substantial increase in emotional problems among young people in Wales, particularly for young people from less affluent backgrounds.
“These results are concerning, particularly as this paper only explores the emotional symptoms of young people prior to COVID-19. Evidence indicates that the pandemic and associated restrictions took a large toll on young people’s mental health. Our data demonstrate what a vulnerable position young people’s mental health and well-being was already in before the pandemic struck.”
The study used data from the 2013 Welsh Health Behavior in School-aged Children (HBSC) and the 2017 and 2019 School Health Research Network (SHRN) Student Health and Well-being surveys.