Females in Northern Ireland are more likely to show signs of mental health problems than males

Females in Northern Ireland are more likely to show signs of mental health problems than males

Published on Friday, 30 September 2016

Posted in News

A recent study conducted by the NHS found that mental illness among young women in England has soared. The NHS study found that 12.6% of women aged 16-24 screened positive for PTSD, 19.7% self-harm and that 28.2% have a mental health illness.

A similar study conducted in Northern Ireland using the General Health Questionnaire 12 (GHQ12) for the 2014/15 health survey, also found that female respondents were more likely to show signs of a possible mental health problem than their male counterparts.* The same report also showed that respondents in the most deprived areas were twice as likely to record a higher GHQ12 score as those in the least deprived areas.

Siobhan Doherty is the Chief Executive of mental health charity AWARE and believes that the pressure young women are under now is far greater than it ever has been. She said,

“We are in the era of social media which could be a contributing factor to the mental health problems of many of our young people - particularly females.”

The University Of Pittsburgh’s School of Medicine studied the effects of social media  habits on the moods of users and found that the more time young adults use social media, the more likely they are to be depressed.

Siobhan continued,

“Whilst there is no evidence to say that the rise is linked to the use of social media, I think as a society we need to be aware of the digital age and the impact it is having on our young people.

“The constant exposure to celebrities and the pressure young women place upon themselves to look like someone is a major contributing factor; the worry that they are not living up to the idealized portraits of life that people tend to present in their profiles and also the impact of cyber bullying. Young people now find it easier to continue bullying outside the school playground with the increased use of social media sites and email. This is worrying and something I would urge all parents to be aware of.

“In 2014/15 in Northern Ireland, over 6000 young people under the age of 19 were prescribed antidepressant medication. This is an alarming figure and shows that more needs to be done to help young people. At AWARE we believe that talking therapies are essential in the treatment of depression. Whilst antidepressant medication can be used alongside talking therapies, we believe that they may not always be necessary in the first instance.”

Belfast woman, Rebecca Dempsey suffered from depression at a young age and it was only when AWARE visited her school that she was able to relate and seek help.

“AWARE came into my secondary school and delivered a Mood Matters in Young People programme. It was following this programme that I realised all the signs and symptoms of depression was what I was experiencing at that time.  

“I recently took part in AWARE’s course Living Life to the Full programme.  My favourite aspect of the programme was meeting with people each week that finally understood. They know what it’s like to feel like a failure, to feel like you’re falling apart and to feel “different”.  The important component of the course was simply talking and we were able to discuss our feelings in a safe and judgement-free environment.

“Despite suffering from depression, I went through University and received my Pharmacy degree. I now work full time as a registered Pharmacist and I am very happy.”

Tags: Antidepressants | AWARE | Depression | Female | GHQ12 | Living Life to the Full | Mental Health | Northern Ireland | Rebecca Dempsey | Siobhan Doherty | Social Media | Talking therapies | University