The Girlguiding UK researched into the pressures that girls face today: self-harming was one of the biggest health concerns for girls aged 11-21 years old, closely followed by mental illness, cyber-bulling and depression.
Out of the 1,574 girls who were surveyed, 62% of those aged 11 to 21 years old said they knew someone who had experienced a mental health problem. For 17 to 21 year olds, 46% said they had personally had mental issues. However, 82% of the girls surveyed felt that adults didn’t recognize the pressures that they were having to face.
Girlguiding’s chief executive Julie Bentley said: “The findings in the year’s Girls’ Attitudes Survey provide a stark warning about the fragile state of UK girls’ wellbeing.”
It is quite troubling to find the lack of awareness about this predominant issue that is infiltrating this generation. Only 44% of girls aged 11 to 16 said they had discussed mental health at school and 52% said they wanted to know more about where to get support for those issues.
The findings will be published next month in Girlguiding’s Girls’ Attitudes Survey 2015.
According to research from the University of York, English children were placed 14th out of 15 countries for overall life satisfaction. This is just ahead of South Korea, which was placed 15th. British school children are unhappier than children in Ethiopa and Algeria because they are bullied, excluded or pressured to look ‘good’.
Around 75% said anxiety about experiencing sexual harassment affected them, influencing their external appearance in both what they wore and negative body image.
The Girlguiding report also found that sexual harassment and low body confidence were damaging their wellbeing. Around 75% said anxiety about experiencing sexual harassment affected them, influencing their external appearance in both what they wore and negative body image.
Girlguiding advocate Katherine Bradfield, 18, told the Telegraph: “Once again, Girlguiding’s Girls’ Attitudes Survey shines a light on what life is really like for girls in the UK today – and it’s a troubling picture. Girls are battling adversity at every corner – as everyday sexism and harassment remain a constant, unwanted presence in our lives. Now we see the damaging consequences of these pressures, as they take their toll on girls’ mental wellbeing.”
The majority of 7-10 year olds said they’d felt ‘sad’ or ‘down’.
Two in five girls see being “beautiful” as being fashionable or thin – which isn’t surprising as this is ubiquitous in all our media outlets. The majority of 7-10 year olds said they’d felt ‘sad’ or ‘down’ while 20% of girls aged 9 to 10 said their appearance makes them feel most upset.
Girls’ health and well-being concerns have changed dramatically over the past five years and adults seem to be failing to keep up with what threatens this generation of girls. We need to start conversing and listening to girls – by uncovering and discussing about the roots of their distress, we can then support them to “champion their potential.”