AWARE response to University of Liverpool study on childhood depression
AWARE – the national depression charity for Northern Ireland has today reacted to the latest study from UCL Institute of Education and the University of Liverpool which was published with the National Children’s Bureau. The study shows that a quarter of girls and one in 10 boys show signs of depression. The findings come from a study which analysed information on more than 10,000 children born in 2000-01.
Teresa Sloan from AWARE said,
“The study which shows that children as young as 14 are showing signs of depression may sound alarming to a lot of people but at AWARE, we are not overly surprised. We find that when we are delivering our Mood Matters Young People programme into post-primary schools across Northern Ireland, more young people are opening up about their mental health and how they are feeling.
“Young people are under considerable pressure to lead the ‘perfect’ life. There is no doubt that social media plays a huge factor in the increasing poor mental health of our young people. Bullying can now be carried out away from the playground and a bully can easily target their victims outside of school which is extremely worrying.
“Young people and teenagers face an enormous amount of pressure when it comes to exams and if they aren’t fulfilling expectations to pass exams like their peers, they feel deflated and like a failure which obviously has a huge factor on their mental health.
“At AWARE, we would urge parents and teachers to look out for any changes in the behaviour of their child. You may notice that they have become withdrawn from activities they previously enjoyed, seem agitated or tired all the time and are perhaps quite tearful or emotional. If these symptoms persist for more than two weeks, it is important that you talk openly to the young person and ask them how they are feeling. You don’t have to an expert to talk to someone about depression, it’s often the little things that make a massive difference.”
26 year old Belfast woman, Rebecca Dempsey suffered from depression at a young age and it was only when AWARE visited her school in her early teens that she was able to relate and seek help.
“AWARE came into my secondary school and delivered a Mood Matters in Young People programme. It was following this programme that I realised all the signs and symptoms of depression was what I was experiencing at that time.
“It all started around my early teens, I would feel irritated a lot of the time and would snap at family members who caught me unaware. I hated myself for it, but it was something I just couldn’t control. After lashing out I would run to my bedroom and immediately the guilt would hit me for what I had done - taken out my frustration and anger on someone who had simply asked me how my day was.
“Naturally, I brushed it all under the rug, repeatedly denying that I had any sort of mental health issue. Yet no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t get that Mood Matters programme out of my head. After months of the same symptoms, I decided it was finally time to get some help. I went to the GP who confirmed my worst fears- that I was suffering from mild to moderate depression.
“Organisations like AWARE are paramount to society. Not only in the sense of battling the terrible stigma attached to mental health issues, but in providing an outlet for people to get help. I think it’s important that as a society we know the symptoms of depression and provide support for those suffering. We lose too many lives through suicide associated with depression, it’s time that we come together as a society to prevent the loss of further precious lives."