Family breakdown and peer pressure are fuelling the numbers of children suffering from mental health problems in Britain, according to a report.
The report reveals that the stresses of family life, friendships, and school account for depression amongst more than a quarter of under-16s.
AdvertisementThese findings spring from the Good Childhood Inquiry, which is based on evidence of several mental health experts.
They suggest that 13 per cent of girls between 13 and 15 years old, and 10 per cent of boys in the same age group, suffer from mental health problems.
The two-year inquiry into the state of modern childhood, commissioned by the Children's Society, also bring to the fore scant availability of treatment for such problems.
The report comes after Unicef concluded that Britain was one of the worst places in the industrialised world to be a child.
It is based on the facts reported by thousands of children.
Twenty-seven per cent of children aged 14 to 16 said that they often felt depressed, while 22 worried about the state of their physical health. Seven out of 10 under16s said that they dieted some or all the time.
"Young people feel under a lot more pressure than they used to. They have high lifestyle expectations, which are often not met. The glamorising of the celebrity culture does not help since by definition most people cannot be part of it. There is more pressure to succeed in exams and be successful, yet fewer constructive activities and pastimes to take part in," Times Online quoted Stephen Scott of King's College London, who is one of the authors of the report, as saying.
He said it was clear that family breakdown was also taking its toll.
"It is as much about the problems arising from family breakdown as the event itself. Young people don't like being in different homes on different days of the week and get upset by strife between their parents," he said.
An accompanying poll also showed that most adults believe that children these days are not as happy as the kids of their own generation.
The GfK NOP poll found that only nine per cent of adults thought that present-day children were happier than the children of their own generation, while 55 per cent said that they thought that present-day children were less happy.
About 29 per cent of the people surveyed blamed family breakdown for making children unhappy, while 23 per cent said that peer pressure accounted for the problem.
Several people also said that the deteriorating mental health amongst children was attributable to computer games, television, and a lack of physical activity.
The Government, however, played down the findings.
"Our families and children's survey showed that most young people in Britain say that they are healthy and feel good about themselves," Children's Minister Kevin Brennan said.
"That doesn't mean that there aren't problems. That is why we issued our children's plan, which aims to make this the best place in the world to be a child," Brennan added.