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Young people are experiencing more mental health issues than before, according to a new survey

The largest survey of youth mental health and wellbeing was launched this week


Written by Maria Hogan and posted in news


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Young people are experiencing more depression and anxiety than in 2012. However, fewer young people are drinking alcohol. That’s according to the My World Survey 2, which was launched this week.

It was developed by UCD School of Psychology and Jigsaw and is Ireland’s largest survey of youth mental health and wellbeing. It is a follow up to the My World Survey 1, published in 2012.

Who was surveyed?

Over 19,000 young people across Ireland took part in the survey.

The survey looks at several groups:

  • Adolescents aged between 12 and 19 in second level education
  • Young adults between 18 and 25 in universities, institutes of technology and in employment
  • Young people from Youthreach
  • Young people in Further Education and community training
  • Young people with a physical disability

What were they asked about?

The survey looked at a number of things affecting young people including:

  • mental health
  • self esteem
  • alcohol use
  • social media use
  • support from family and friends
  • relationships
  • sexual behaviour
  • sexuality
  • bullying

What were the results?

Mental health

Since 2012, the number of adolescents reporting ‘very severe’ anxiety has doubled from 7% in My World Survey 1 to 15% now. There has been an increase in those reporting ‘mild’, ‘moderate’ and ‘severe’ levels of anxiety too.

The number of adolescents reporting ‘moderate’, ‘severe’ and ‘very severe’ depression has increased too with those reporting ‘very severe’ depression more than doubling from 4% to 9% of adolescents.

There has been an increase in young adults reporting ‘mild’, ‘moderate’, ‘severe’ and ‘very severe’ levels of depression and an increase in ‘moderate’, ‘severe’ and ‘very severe’ levels of anxiety since 2012.

Adolescents and young adults reported lower levels of self-esteem and optimism than in the 2012 results. Both adolescents and young adults in 2019 were less able to cope well with problems than in 2012 and showed higher levels of avoidance based coping.

However, adolescents in My World Survey 2 showed a significant increase in levels of social support, family support and adult support.

A high level of young people in Youthreach experience ‘severe’ level of anxiety with 29% reporting it. Similarly, 24% of those enrolled in a college of further education or community training experience ‘severe’ anxiety.

The number of young people with a physical disability experiencing anxiety was similar to that of the adolescents and young adults groups.

Alcohol use

Both adolescents and young adults report drinking less alcohol now than in 2012. 58% of adolescents report that they have never drank alcohol, compared to 49% in 2012. For young adults 10% never drank, compared to 7% in 2012.

However of the adolescents who drank they were more likely to be in the ‘problem drinking’, ‘hazardous drinking’ or ‘possible alcohol dependency’ ranges than in the 2012 survey.

For young adults there has been an increase in ‘low risk drinking’ range and a decrease in ‘problem drinking’, ‘hazardous drinking’ and ‘possible alcohol dependency’.

Young people from Youthreach, Further Education and community training and young people with a physical disability were within a similar range as the young adult group. The majority of young people from Youthreach, Further Education and community training and young people with a physical disability stay within the ‘low risk’ drinking range.

For the full report on the survey results see myworldsurvey.ie.



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Published Novem­ber 25th2019
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