Given the known rise in prevalence of mental illness from childhood to adolescence, particularly in girls, this analysis aims to dig more deeply into young people’s mental health and wellbeing in this period of life. Poor mental health in adolescence is strongly associated with poor mental health in adulthood, which, in turn, can affect relationships, societal engagement and productivity. Since the arrival of Covid-19, the prevalence of probable mental disorders has risen substantially to one in six young people, from one in nine in 2017.
We find that as children move into adolescence, self-esteem is more strongly correlated with both wellbeing and levels of psychological distress, suggesting that as young people get older, how they see and value themselves becomes more closely tied to how they feel about their lives generally. This is of particular concern for girls, a significant proportion of whom struggle with body image issues and lower self-esteem.