In the UK, young women are the most affected by common mental health issues, according to new statistics released by NHS Digital.
One fifth of women (19%) have experienced common mental health problems, compared to one in eight men (12%), with women being more likely to report severe symptoms.
One quarter (26%) of 16- to 24-year-old women admit to have self-harmed, that’s double the rate of young men (10%).
The survey, which aimed to understand the prevalence of mental health issues across England, revealed that young women were also more at risk of depression, anxiety, bipolar and post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Paul Farmer, chief executive of mental health charity Mind, hailed the findings as “shocking” and called on the Government to “act now” to combat the country’s growing mental health crisis.
The new survey paints a bleak picture of mental health problems in England, with one in five adults revealing they have considered taking their own life.
One in three adults aged 16 to 74 are now reported to be living with conditions such as anxiety or depression, which they are accessing treatment for.
Paul Buckley, head of information at Mind, told The Huffington Post UK: “It’s difficult to know the exact reasons behind the rise in depression, anxiety and self-harm in young people and it’s likely to be down to a huge combination of factors.
“Young people are coming of working age in times of economic uncertainty, they’re more likely to experience issues associated with debt, unemployment, and poverty, and they are up against increasing social and environmental pressures, all of which affect wellbeing.”
Buckley also felt the rise of social media had played a part in the findings.
“Since the last data was released in 2009, we’ve seen a surge in the use of social media,” he explained.
“While social media can promote good mental health and can help people feel less isolated, it also comes with some risks.
“Its instantaneous and anonymous nature means it’s easy for people to make hasty and sometimes ill-advised comments that can negatively affect other people’s mental health.
“It’s important to avoid sites that are likely to trigger negative feelings and/or behaviour and to take a break from social media if you’re feeling vulnerable.”
Farmer added that, on a positive note, the rise in people reporting mental health problems might be due to more people coming forward with concerns about their health, and GPs recognising symptoms and prescribing relevant treatments more quickly.
“We still have a long way to go before our mental health is treated as equally important to our physical health,” he said.
“This data makes it clear to the Government that when it comes to the nation’s mental health, the time to act is now.”
Useful websites and helplines:
Samaritans offers a listening service which is open 24 hours a day, on 116 123 UK and ROI – this number is FREE to call and will not appear on your phone bill.)
Mind, open Monday to Friday, 9am-6pm on 0300 123 3393.
Get Connected is a free advice service for people under 25. Call 0808 808 4994 or email: help@
HopeLine runs a confidential advice helpline if you are a young person at risk of suicide or are worried about a young person at risk of suicide. Mon-Fri 10-5pm and 7pm-10pm. Weekends 2pm-5pm on 0800 068 41 41.