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Number of teenagers reporting severe anxiety in Ireland doubles since 2012, report finds

That’s according to My World Survey 2, the largest ever study of Ireland’s youth mental health.

Image: Shutterstock/Marjan Apostolovic

THE NUMBER OF teenagers reporting severe anxiety in Ireland has doubled since 2012.

That’s according to My World Survey 2, the largest ever study of Ireland’s youth mental health, conducted by UCD School of Psychology and the Jigsaw charity.

The survey, which is a follow-up of the 2012 My World Survey 1, consulted with more than 19,000 young people across Ireland. 

The study found that the proportion of adolescents (aged 12 to 19) reporting severe anxiety has doubled from 11% to 22% since the first survey. 

Levels of reported severe anxiety in young adults (aged 18 to 25) has seen an increase of 11%, from 15% in the first survey to 26% in the latest one. 

In the second survey, 76% of adolescents reported they had a ‘one good adult’ in their lives, which is an increase of 5% compared to the 2012 survey. 

According to the report, there was an increase in the proportion of adolescents who fell into the severe and very severe categories for depression, from 8% in the first survey to 15% in the new one.

Similar to the adolescent group, there was an increase in the proportion of young adults who fell into the severe and very severe categories for depression, from 14% in 2012 to 21% this year.

Adolescents in the latest survey (42%) were also less likely to report that they coped well with problems than those in the 2012 one (49%), and were less likely (59% in this survey) to report talking about their problems (66% in the 2012 survey). 

However, there was a decrease, from 45% in the first survey to 39% in the latest one, in the proportion of adolescents who reported being bullied.

“While the last decade has seen a considerable growth in awareness and conversation about young people’s mental health, what is evident from the data from today’s report is that more needs to be done to address the main issues affecting our young people,” Dr Joseph Duffy, CEO of Jigsaw, the National Centre for Youth Mental Health, said. 

“The increased levels of anxiety and depression, the decreased levels of self-esteem, optimism and life-satisfaction and growing trends of self-harm are of particular concern,” Duffy said. 

He added that the survey provides “new insights into, and better understand of, young people’s mental health and wellbeing”.

“It can be, and must be, instrumental in building and improving our collective knowledge in the area of youth mental health and in establishing new responses,” he said. 

“This is opportunity at hand, one we all must grasp.”

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