Rise in Mental Health Problems for Young Women in Scotland

 31st Oct 2016

A survey commissioned by the Scottish Government Health Directorates found women in Scotland aged between 16 and 24 had a “significantly lower” quality of mental health.

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The annual survey, aptly named the Scottish Health Survey, used scores obtained using the Warwick-Edinburgh Mental Wellbeing Scale (WEMWBS) to produce reports about the state of mental health in the country.

This system provides a score between 14 and 70 based on the responses from candidates which correlates to their overall level of mental wellbeing.

The survey used data collected from a total of 5,000 adults and 1,421 child participants to produce a series of in-depth reports.

This information shows how there was a marked decrease in the average score for women aged between 16 and 24. This was in stark contrast to other age groups where there was little difference between both genders.

Furthermore, it was also found that reported incidents of self-harm were higher in this age range with 23% of women compared with 18% of men.

In addition to using the WEMWBS scores, the survey also monitored average consumption of alcohol and tobacco, diet, physical activity and general health to produce a more accurate, holistic account of Scotland’s wellbeing.

Other physical health issues which were analysed included the cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, and injuries of those surveyed.

In addition to the noticeably poor mental health of younger women, the surveyed also discovered the following facts:

  • Low mental wellbeing was more prevalent in deprived areas
  • The frequency of binge and alcohol consumption in general is declining
  • More Scottish people are retaining their natural teeth

Following on from the survey’s research, it was that the number of children who were exposed to smoke in a home environment had fortunately undergone a dramatic decrease from 11% in 2014 to 6% in 2015.

This is excellent news considering the Scottish government’s proposed target was to reach 6% by 2020.

The health of young people in Scotland has also been improved following the report of a strong increase in the number of children being at a healthy bodyweight.

Whilst this is promising, obesity rates for young adults in the country have been labelled by Cancer Research UK as “shocking”.

Bodyweight appears to be a large problem for people living in Scotland. In 2015, the percentage of males aged between 65 and 74 who were overweight stood at an astounding 84%.

This issue has been described as “a huge worry for the health of the nation” by the University of Stirling’s Cancer Prevention Expert Professor Linda Bauld due to the array of health problems which can develop as a result of excessive bodyweight.

Despite the aforementioned improvements, Scottish Conservative sport spokesman Brian Whittle said the survey’s findings displayed how the SNP had “failed on health” due to there being no changes to the country’s diet, exercise levels or mental health in nearly ten years.

The most concerning conclusion found from this report remains as being the dramatic fall in mental wellbeing for women aged between 16 and 24 which is backed by almost a quarter of these having self-harmed.

This annual report is a reminder of the importance to prioritising developments in physical and mental health in order to improve the population’s wellbeing and create a safer place to live in.

You can read the full version of the Scottish Health Survey here.

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Find out more about our charity and the work we do by clicking here.

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