IRISH youth may have higher rates of mental health problems than their peers in Europe and the USA, according to a new report.
The research from the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI) showed one in five young Irish adults aged 19-24 and one in six young people aged 11-13 were experiencing mental health problems.
Mental ill-health in early life places young people at increased risk of further episodes during their adult years, the report published on World Mental Health Day revealed.
The findings of the report also indicate that high numbers of young adults aged 19-24 are engaged in the misuse of alcohol and drugs.
Over 1 in 5 met criteria for a diagnosable substance use disorder over the course of their lives and 1 in 20 met criteria for an alcohol use disorder at the time of the study.
Of particular concern is that 3 out of 4 young adults (75pc) met lifetime criteria for binge drinking. The research also reveals that almost 1 in 5 (19pc) had thought about suicide.
‘The Mental Health Of Young People in Ireland’ report prepared by the RCSI Psychiatric Epidemiology Research across the Lifespan (PERL) Group was launched by Junior Health Minister Kathleen Lynch.
It is the first time such comprehensive, longitudinal data about mental health disorders among young people in Ireland have been published.
The research, involved surveying and interviewing more than 400 young people between the ages of 11 and 24 to assess them for the presence of mental disorders and to examine their overall level of functioning.
Commenting on the report Professor Mary Cannon of the RCSI, said: “Our research shows that high numbers of teenagers and young adults in Ireland are experiencing mental ill-health at any given time.
“ For the first time in Ireland, we have evidence showing that young people who experience mental ill-health during adolescence have higher rates of mental disorders and substance misuse during their young adult years and are three times more likely to be unemployed than young adults who did not experience mental ill-health during their adolescence.”
Ms Lynch said :”No one should have to suffer a mental illness alone. I would appeal to any young person who thinks they may have a mental health issue not to suffer in silence and to seek help from the many sources available.”