More mental disorders among young Irish, study shows

Research finds one third of young people experience a mental disorder by age 13

A report from the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI) released today - World Mental Health Day - indicates that one in three young people in Ireland is likely to have experienced some form of mental disorder by the age of 13.  Photograph: Getty Some children are being locked up between 8pm and 8am

A report from the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI) released today - World Mental Health Day - indicates that one in three young people in Ireland is likely to have experienced some form of mental disorder by the age of 13. Photograph: Getty Some children are being locked up between 8pm and 8am

Thu, Oct 10, 2013, 11:36

Young Irish people may have higher rates of mental disorder than young people of similar age in other countries, according to new research published today.

A report from the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI) released today - World Mental Health Day - indicates that one in three young people in Ireland is likely to have experienced some form of mental disorder by the age of 13.

This rate increased to more than one in two young people who had experienced some form of mental disorder by the time they reached the age of 24.

Based on international evidence, this means up to one third of Irish adolescents and over one half of young Irish adults are at increased risk of mental ill-health into their adult years.

These rates of mental ill-health are higher than in other countries, the study notes.

When researchers compared the findings of the number of people who had experienced mental disorders among 19- to 24-year-olds in Ireland (55 per cent) to those for other countries, they were similar to figures for the US (52 per cent), but significantly higher than for Germany (39 per cent) and the UK (44 per cent).

The study also shows significant numbers of young people are deliberately harming themselves and that many young people have experienced suicidal thoughts.

Researchers found more than one in 15 young people in both age groups had engaged in deliberate self-harm.

By the age of 24 years, up to one in five young people will have experienced suicidal thoughts, or “suicidal ideation”.

The research has identified a number of risk factors associated with the experience of mental ill-health among young Irish people.

These include the experience of health, work and relationship stress, family difficulties, the experience of being in an abusive intimate relationship and having a bisexual or homosexual orientation.

Researchers found experience of mental ill-health during adolescence is a risk factor for future mental ill-health and substance misuse in young adulthood. It is also associated with an increased risk of unemployment during early adult years.

Helen Coughlan, clinical research fellow at the RCSI’s department of psychiatry, said the results pointed to the need for increased funding of mental health services to support young people before they reach a crisis point.

Mental health literacy should also be highlighted more within the education system, she added.

The findings relating to 11- to 13-years-olds were based on interviews and clinical assessments with 220 children who were selected randomly from the north Dublin and Kildare area.

Results relating to 19- to 24-year-olds were based on clinical assessments of more than 200 young people in the same area.

The definition of mental disorder used in the report was based on a widely accepted definition which states that a person must be experiencing mental distress that is either “disabling them in some way or puts them at increased risk of suffering, death, disability or a loss of freedom”.
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