"Significant increase in anxiety" in young Irish people according to largest ever study of its kind 2 weeks ago

"Significant increase in anxiety" in young Irish people according to largest ever study of its kind

Young people in Ireland are feeling worse.

A study undertaken by the UCD School of Psychology has revealed a dramatic increase in the number of young Irish people who are suffering from anxiety.

The My World Study 2, a follow-up on an original study conducted in 2012, showed that the proportion of adolescents (aged between 12 and 19) reporting severe anxiety had doubled from 11% to 22%. For young adults between the ages of 18 and 25, the number reporting severe anxiety had increased from 15% to 26%.

Among the key findings were data showing that "levels of protective factors related to mental health such as self-esteem, optimism and resilience have decreased". However, 76% of respondents said they had at least one good adult in their lives, which is a 5% increase compared to the original study.

The study also found that the increases in anxiety were more striking in female respondents and "seldom heard groups", including young people with physical disabilities, young people in Youthreach, young people in Colleges of Further Education (CFE)/community training.

Factors such as sleep, physical activity, social media use and pornography use were also strongly associated with depression and anxiety.

Speaking ahead of the launch of the report in Smock Alley, UCD Lead Researcher Professor Barbara Dooley said: “My World Survey 2 is unique in terms of the size of the sample across the age range 12-25 years and it focuses not only on risk factors associated with mental health distress but takes a more balanced approach by including a wide number of positive factors that can support young peoples’ mental health.

"By taking a strengths-based approach to understanding protective factors associated with youth mental health, we can identify ways to support our young people and to inform about positive wellbeing. In terms of the rise in anxiety, unfortunately this was not an unexpected finding."

Speaking about the report Dr. Joseph Duffy, CEO of Jigsaw, the National Centre for Youth Mental Health added: "While the last decade has seen a considerable growth in awareness and conversation about young people’s mental health, what is evident from the data from today’s report, is that more needs to be done to address the main issues affecting our young people.

"The increased levels of anxiety and depression, the decreased levels of self-esteem, optimism and life-satisfaction and growing trends of self-harm are of particular concern."