• How many children consider suicide
  • How many eating disorders
  • How many anxiety/depression


20% of adolescents may experience a mental health problem in any given year.1

50% of mental health problems are established by age 14 and 75% by age 24.2 

10% of children and young people (aged 5-16 years) have a clinically diagnosable mental problem3, yet 70% of children and adolescents who experience mental health problems have not had appropriate interventions at a sufficiently early age.4


Wellbeing declines as children and young people get older. This highlights the need to equip children and young people with the skills to support their wellbeing as they move into the world. This analysis replicates other sources showing a drop in wellbeing over adolescence and into early adulthood. Importantly, in examining children’s wellbeing over age we also observed that a slight decrease in children’s wellbeing overall since 2009 may be driven by older (13-15 year old), rather than younger (10-12 year old), children. This has implications for understanding the experiences of older children in particular and how these are tied to their wellbeing.


Seeing friends and getting enough sleep were consistent protective factors for positive psychological health across adolescence. Feeling safe in their neighbourhood was also important in younger girls. Other significant protective factors, whilst having a smaller effect, included a positive attitude towards school, feeling a high locus of control and, in younger girls, physical exercise.

A similar pattern was present when looking at time trends in children’s wellbeing from 2009 to the most recent figures in 2016-17: wellbeing has remained relatively high, with the majority of children reporting they are happy or very happy with their lives. However, it has dropped slightly since 2009, with a concurrent small increase in the proportion of children reporting feeling relatively unhappy with their lives.


Being older was associated with lower wellbeing: young people aged 20-24 reported lower average life satisfaction and happiness than those aged 16-19.  The largest gender difference was in experiences of anxiety, where young women reported higher recent anxiety than young men. Young women also had slightly higher ratings of feeling life was worthwhile than men, but there were no discernible gender differences in life satisfaction and happiness.




Everything that we do at Bettering Youth is backed by evidence, which is why we wanted to share with
you the research for which we have based our highly successful programmes on.

Scroll to Top