The number of girls aged between 11 and 13 with serious emotional problems rose by 55% between 2009 and 2014, a study has found.
Researchers from University College London and the Anna Freud Centre's Evidence-Based Practice Unit examined the mental health of 1683 girls aged between 11 and 13, and found that the number of of girls with mental health problems had increased between 2009 and 2014. Where in 2009 there would have been one or two girls in a classroom of 30 with a mental health issue in 2014, there would be three in an average 2014 class. The study also found that the risk of a girl developing a mental health issue rose from 13% in 2009 to 20% in 2014.
Dr Elian Fink, the study's lead author said: 'Whatever is causing the rise of emotional problems, it is clear that we need more effective interventions. These might include encouraging teachers to look out for emotional problems in young girls and increasing provision of youth mental health services.'
The cause of the sharp rise in mental health problems in girls is unclear, although some have suggested that an increase in bullying, particularly cyberbullying could be the reason for the rise.
Sarah Brennan, Chief Executive of YoungMinds said: 'This research is shocking further concrete evidence of the serious, and worsening state of children and young people's mental health in this country. [The researchers] make an important distinction that girls specifically are suffering. Young people tell us that they feel enormous pressures today ranging from bullying, the 24/7 online environment and sexual pressures to issues around body image, school stress and family breakdown.'
The study was published in the Journal of Adolescent Health.