Mental health of European adolescents is in decline


  • Heather Mason
  • Univadis Medical News
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A report from the World Health Organization reveals that more European adolescents are reporting mental health concerns.

The International Health Behaviour in School-aged Children (HBSC) study assessed health and social behaviours of 227,441 children aged 11, 13 and 15, from 45 countries. In many countries between 2014-2018, adolescent mental well-being declined. Girls were particularly high risk for poor mental well-being. One in four adolescents reports nervousness, irritability, difficulties attaining sleep at least once a week. One-third of countries reporting pressure of schoolwork.

The study examined the use of digital technology alongside the status of mental health, where vulnerabilities can be amplified, with cyberbullying disproportionately affected girls.

Other key findings:

  • Risky sexual behaviour.
  • Drinking and smoking; 15% of 15-year-olds had been drunk in the past 30 days.
  • Most failed to meet nutritional recommendations.
  • Levels of overweight and obesity have risen since 2014, affecting one in five.

The next study will feature findings from 2021/2022, reflecting the impact of COVID-19.

“That increasing numbers of boys and girls across the European Region are reporting poor mental health - feeling low, nervous or irritable - is a concern for us all,” says Dr Hans Henri P. Kluge, WHO Regional Director for Europe.