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Why is there an Increase in Mental Health Issues among Young Kids?

The evidence that more children and young people are suffering from mental health problems leads to one obvious question: why? What the researchers call “social and family context” clearly matters. Almost a quarter (24%) of people aged five to 19 who have a mental disorder were in a family that have been struggling to function well, the academics found. In comparison, far fewer of them – just 10% – were found to be surrounded by “healthy family functioning”(The Guardian, 2018).

Similarly, 28% of troubled youngsters have a parent who has been struggling with mental illness themselves, compared with 9% of children without mental ill health.

Little-known outside psychiatric circles, these disorders involve extreme temper tantrums and severe disobedience which have been judged to be developmentally inappropriate, severe and persistent, and to cause distress or impair the child’s normal functioning.

There is also the fact that anxiety and depression, the likely causes of which were easier to identify, have been absent in preschoolers.Those young people aged between 11 and 16 with a disorder were much more likely than their mentally untroubled peers to have taken illicit drugs, drunk alcohol or tried a cigarette (AJMC, 2019).

Among these children, the use of social media, widely blamed for causing much of the epidemic of mental illness in young people, was an important possible explanation too. While, for example, 29.4% of those aged 11 to 19 with a disorder spent more than four hours a day on social media, just 12% of those displaying no symptoms did the same thing.

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