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Mental health

Some of the most common mental disorders experienced by young people include anxiety disorders, mood disorders, behavioural disorders and eating disorders. Mental health problems have important implications for all aspects of young people’s lives.

Among boys the likelihood of a disorder is highest at age 11-16.  Among girls, it is 17-19

Many young people will experience mental health problems at some point between age 10 and 24. Those most common in the teenage years include anxiety and depression, behavioural disorders, eating disorders, and self-harm. This age period also witnesses the early emergence of rarer psychotic disorders such as schizophrenia.

14.5 years, The peak age of onset for mental health problemsA recent international review concluded that the percentage of individuals with age of onset of any mental disorders before the ages of 14, 18, 25 were 34.6%, 48.4%, and 62.5% respectively. Peak age of onset was 14.5 years, and median age of onset was 18 (Solmi et al (2021). Specifically for anxiety, OCD and eating disorders the proportions with onset under 25 were higher. These are similar to previous estimates (Kessler et al, 2005; Kim-Cohen et al, 2003). As the authors note, these data emphasise the importance of good mental health promotion in childhood and adolescence, and suggest reconsideration of the current mental health system structured around a child/adult service schism at age 18.

Mental health problems have important implications for every aspect of young people’s lives including their ability to engage with education, make and keep friends, engage in constructive family relationships and find their own way in the world. Mental health problems are also a major contributor to the global burden of disease (Global Health Data Exchange, 2018).

All data correct as of 1st November 2021