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By Newsdesk

Tuesday, April 3, 2012.

Young Britons have higher levels of anxiety, depression and behaviour problems than 30 years ago, according to a new study.

The research by the Nuffield foundation suggests that in addition to increased levels of anxiety and depression, today’s teenagers are more likely to be in education and less likely to be in paid employment than their counterparts in the 1970s and 1980s, leading to a longer and less structured period of adolescence.

A huge factor into these staggering figures is the rise in divorce rate with young people today being twice as likely to have experienced a break-up of their family home than teenagers in 1974.

Research author Dr Ann Hagell said: "For 16- to 18-year-olds in particular there have been dramatic changes over the past 30 years. Their relationships with their families are different; they experience more active parenting that continues into their early adulthood."

Although conduct and emotional problems increased in all family types, the rates amongst adolescents in non-intact families (separated, divorced and step) tend to be higher than intact families (for example, approximately 20 per cent versus 12 per cent in 1999). The report suggests there is some evidence that about 15-30 per cent of the change in emotional and behavioural problems could possibly be linked to the change in family structure, but the majority of the change has to be explained by other causes.

Lucie Russell, Director of Campaigns Policy and Participation, YoungMinds says that young people’s mental health is under pressure like never before due to zero job prospects, increased financial pressure on university students, in addition to the ever increasing pressure to follow the latest consumer trends and worrying rates of online bullying.

“This bleak outlook is understandably leading to concerns about the mental health of young people,” she said. “The World Health Organisation predicts that by 2030 more people will be affected by depression than any other health problem yet investment in mental health remains sadly lacking, we are sitting on a mental health time-bomb and urgent action is needed to invest in mental health support services for young people.

“For every pound spent by the NHS, specific services for children and young people’s mental health receive less than a penny. It’s time we recognised that the wellbeing of young people is vital if we want to have a mentally healthy society for generations to come.”

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