Pressures of Life Today Send Teenage Girls over the Edge

Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales), February 24, 2005 | Go to article overview

Pressures of Life Today Send Teenage Girls over the Edge


Byline: By JENNY REES Western Mail

A generation of teenage girls in Wales say they cannot cope with the pressures of modern life. The shocking portrait reveals that half admit they 'regularly feel depressed' and fewer than one in three feel 'greatly loved' by their parents.

And divorced or separated parents will be alarmed - and concerned - to discover that nearly half of teen girls from broken homes felt 'knocked emotionally' by their parents' split.

The new study, which has led to calls for more to be done to help support young girls at home, school and in the media, is the most comprehensive survey of teenage girls' emotional health today.

It found that many teenage girls are being sent over the age by pressures such as:

Family disputes;

Endless homework;

The availability of alcohol and drugs;

Bullying;

Society's demand to look good.

Six out of 10 of the 14 year-old girls questioned 'feel insecure'. Six out of 10 are plagued with self- doubt. One in 10 even say they are 'an emotional wreck'.

Disturbingly nine out of 10 teenage girls say they've felt 'depressed' and more than a third say they are 'unhappy or miserable'. Sadly a further 6% feel 'life's not worth living'.

Fewer than two thirds of the girls lived with both parents, with a fifth living with just their mum, 13% with 'mum and step-dad' and 2% 'just Dad'.

Young girls' coping mechanisms should also be a cause for some concern, reveals the Teen Emotional Health Survey of Great Britain 2005, commissioned by Bliss Magazine.

Four of 10 girls aged 14 in Wales drink alcohol every week - 10% more than the rest of the UK - and more than half say it 'makes them feel happy'.

Nearly a quarter have tried drugs and one in 10 has tried to run away from home.

The main reasons they give for feeling down are:

Too much pressure to succeed academically -62%

Too much homework and coursework - 84%

A rise in broken families and divorce -52%

Drugs and alcohol are too readily available - 42%.

But the vast majority - 94% - felt there was too much pressure to look good.

Eight out of 10 have been reduced to tears by homework.

Clinical psychologist Linda Blair said, 'The teenage years are probably the most turbulent of our lives and the certainly the most stressful emotionally, especially as girls are permitted - and almost encouraged - to admit their emotions.

'But there are also new pressures on teenagers such as the amazing pressures of exams and to go to university, which I think is outrageous.

'There is also an uncertain future for young people today. In my generation we could buy a house and expected to stay in the same job and have a pension, but none of these things are happening now. From my clinical experience the increasing number of divorces means that young people feel unstable about where they go for help.

'Their parents may be warring and if they go to one they make a statement that they are on their side, so there are increasing feelings of isolation. We have more communication available today but most of it is not face to face. …

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