Attention is increasingly being paid to mental health issues in young men. With that comes a risk we ignore 50 per cent of the problemby Mark Brown / January 31, 2018 / Leave a comment
In 2018, there will be more discussion of mental illness than ever before. The mental health of young people is worsening—prevention and treatment are failing to keep pace. 10 per cent of young people aged 5-16 now have a clinically diagnosable mental health condition, according to Public Health England.
A fairly mainstream argument, but one that has most taken root on the “alt-right,” is that young men are most at risk in the modern world because suicide rates are higher for young men than young women. In the UK in 2015, 174 young people aged 15-19 died by suicide: 126 were male, 46 were female.
But despite the upsetting and unsettling fact that men are more likely to die by suicide, it is young women who are more likely to live with common mental health problems. The statistics on this point are deeply troubling.
A recent report by The Mental Health Foundation states that young women are three times more likely to experience common yet debilitating mental health problems—such as depression an anxiety—than men. It starts early and is getting worse. According to NHS data obtained by the Guardian in September 2017, hospital admissions for self-harm in girls under 17 has risen by 68 per cent over the last decade. The rise for boys was lower at 26 per cent. Admissions of girls under 17 who had self-poisoned rose by 50 per cent over the same period.
There is a stereotype that women find it easier to discuss their emotions than young men, and that this is an important lifeline. Maybe so—but clearly it is not sufficient. Young women are three times more likely to experience post-traumatic stress disorder, with over 12 per cent screening positively for symptoms; and three times more likely to suffer from eating disorders.
The risk is even higher for young women who aren’t white, are poor, who are not straight or who are trans. The Health Foundation report suggests abuse and violence, social media and pornography, and worsening economic conditions have created circumstances that have a particularly adverse impact on the mental health of young women. While men traditionally find it more difficult to seek help for their mental health, which may skew prevalence data for adults, mental illness in young people is more often detected when family, carers, schools or colleges seek help on their behalf, meaning…