Children’s mental health ‘affected by inequality’

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A major international report has found that young people’s mental health and well-being is being undermined by gender and social inequalities.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) study shows that that while 80 per cent of the respondents report generally high rates of life satisfaction, differences between genders and socio-economic status are adversely affecting many young people at a critical stage in their development.

The report also showed that girls report poorer mental health than boys, and the difference between genders increases with age.

Dr Jo Inchley, HBSC International Coordinator and lead editor of the report, said: “The findings highlight large gender disparities in health, which emerge or worsen during the adolescent years.

“While girls are more likely to eat fruit and vegetables and brush their teeth than boys, they report more negative self-perceptions and poorer mental well-being.

“Boys are generally more physically active but also more likely to engage in risky behaviours.”

“Young people from more disadvantaged backgrounds not only report lower levels of health-promoting behaviours and poorer health outcomes but also have fewer social assets such as support from family and friends.”

Data collected for the study are based on surveys completed by thousands of adolescents in Europe and North America.

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