Northern Ireland news

One in three secondary pupils suffering mental health issues

A study found many young people were feeling depressed

ONE in three teenage school pupils are suffering mental health and emotional wellbeing issues, new research has revealed.

A study found many were feeling depressed, experiencing restless sleep or were unable to shake negative feelings, even with the help of friends and family.

Action for Children reported that 15 to 18-year-olds also struggled to focus their mind while many said everything felt "an effort".

The charity collected and analysed data from the Blues Programme, which is run at 37 schools across Britain and Northern Ireland including schools in Derry and Downpatrick.

It delivers early help for depression in secondary schools. It is based on Cognitive Behaviour Therapy methods and helps pupils understand the connection between negative thoughts, actions and feelings.

A total of 70 per cent who have taken part showed an improvement in mental health and emotional wellbeing, with a specific decrease in depression. Pupils also reported increased confidence and self-esteem, improved relationships and better engagement at school.

Dawn Shaw, Action for Children director in Northern Ireland, said it was troubling that so many young people were dealing with issues of depression and anxiety – all too often alone.

"We support teenagers who are really struggling for a number of reasons. Young people are increasingly concerned about their futures as they become more aware of the political environment around them," she said.

"Many are dealing with the intense pressure of school work, others are experiencing problems at home. Add in navigating an increasingly complex 24/7 world with constant stimulation from social media, and things often become too much for young people to handle."

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