Helping you get through tough times

We asked what’s wrecking your head?

At the beginning of March 2017 we asked teenagers over Ireland about the state of their mental health.

What's wrecking your head panelIn just three days, over 2,500 teenagers (13 – 19 year-olds) completed our online youth mental health survey ‘What’s wrecking your head?’

Nearly half of the respondents answered the final open question “is there anything else you would like to say about the mental health of teenagers in Ireland today?”. This tells us that those taking part welcomed the opportunity to voice their thoughts about the state of teenagers’ mental health

Nearly two-thirds (65%) of respondents were female, with a spread of ages from 13 to 19 years-old and 39% lived in a rural area.

Mental health state

For the results of the question “how would you rate your mental health at the moment?” there was an even three-way split between those who replied ‘good’ or ‘very good’, ‘poor’ or ‘very poor’ and ‘average’. Young males were more likely than females to rate their mental health as ‘good’ or ‘very good’ (45%). The younger teenagers were more likely to report good mental health than those in their late teens.

Causes of stress

When asked about things that have ever caused stress or difficulty, ‘exams’ (selected by 81%) followed by ‘school’ (selected by 80%) were the most common stressors.

The next most frequently selected issue was ‘body image’ (72%), followed by ‘friends’ (69%) and ‘family’ (63%). ‘social media’ (43%) which was mentioned frequently as a source of tension between parents and teenagers.

Traditionally, ‘body image’ issues are more associated with females and in our survey it was selected as a difficulty by 81% of females and 52% of the young males.

Stress solutions

Thinking about solutions and supports, the survey asked about “what helps?” (an open question). Over 2,000 answered this question and ‘music’ was the most common response (by 40%), followed by ‘exercise and sport’ (23%) and ‘talking’ (18%).

A small number of teenagers reported negative coping strategies such as ‘binge drinking’ and ‘self-harm’.

Mental health support

Respondents were also asked about their likelihood of using sources of support for mental health from a list of ten options. ‘Online search’ was selected by 58% and ‘friends’ by 56%. The ‘GP’ was selected by 13% of respondents and ‘mental health service’ by only 9%.

As with other recent mental health surveys, very few respondents indicated they would use a telephone helpline (6%) reflecting the changing nature of help-seeking among young people today.

Less stigma

The richest survey insights came from the final open question, answered by 1,142 young people, one of whom suggested “the stigma around mental health is going away, it’s starting to be talked about openly a lot more but I feel like there needs to be more supports available to young people.”

Download and read the full report ‘What’s wrecking your head?’.pdf format (2.97KB)

Check out The Irish Examiner’s coverage: Day 1, Day 2 and Day 3

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