Mental health of more than half of young Scots impacted by loneliness, finds poll

Written by Tom Freeman on 5 January 2018 in News

Social media identified as a factor in the social isolation of young people, finds Mental Health Foundation

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More than half of Scots aged between 18 and 24 experience mental-ill health from loneliness and social isolation, new research has shown.

In a poll of young people in Scotland by YouGov for the Mental Health Foundation, 67 per cent reported their mental health worsens as a result of feeling lonely, with more than half saying it leads to depression.

Nearly a third identified digital communications such as social media as a driving force to feelings of social isolation as it has replaced face-to-face interaction.

The charity said the figures highlighted the importance of pledges by the Scottish Government to a strategy on social isolation and to establish a Youth Commission on mental health.

Director Isabella Goldie said: "Loneliness among younger people is hugely underreported, but our research is clear that social isolation affects the mental health of young people more than any other age group.

“Our children are finding life harder to navigate than previous generations, and worryingly, they are living with high levels of distress. This is something we can no longer choose to ignore.

“Relationships and social connections remain at the heart of what makes and breaks our mental health.”

The report comes as the children’s commissioner in England Anne Longfield issued a warning that school pupils are on social media up to 18 hours a day.

Longfield said schools and parents should prepare children emotionally for the "significant risks" of social media.

"They find themselves chasing likes, chasing validation, being very anxious about their appearance online and offline and feeling that they can't disconnect - because that will be seen as socially damaging," she told the BBC.

In Scotland the Mental Health Foundation has called for a greater emphasis on health and wellbeing in the school curriculum.

"If the Scottish Government is serious about making 2018 the Year of Young People then it must place health and wellbeing at the heart of the school curriculum - not at the sidelines as it currently is,” said Goldie.

Currently the Curriculum for Excellence lists health and wellbeing as a priority, especially in the early years, but child health experts have expressed concern that a focus on testing and measurable results has left it increasingly sidelined.

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