Drinkaware.ie has welcomed findings from the recently published ‘My World Survey - National Study of Youth Mental Health in Ireland’, The first national study of mental health of Irish youth aged 12 to 25, gives an insight in to the complex experience of being young in Ireland.
The CEO of drinkaware.ie, Ms Fionnuala Sheehan said: “While some media reports have highlighted the fact of alcohol being a problem for some young people - and it undoubtedly is - the research paints a more complex, multi-faceted picture.”
“Reports to date have had a primary focus on negative factors; this report is very welcome as it takes a more holistic approach and considers protective factors (resilience, optimism, coping, social support, life satisfaction, self-esteem and help-seeking behaviour) in conjunction with risk factors (stress, depression, anxiety, alcohol and drug use, bullying, suicidal behaviour, and gambling behaviour).”
The My World Study found that the majority of adolescents (70%) were functioning well across a variety of mental health indicators and that, in general, adolescents who indicated they were in distress were more likely to report excessive drinking behaviour, to have experienced being bullied at some point, to have reported low availability of a special adult when in need and don’t talk about their problems or seek help.
Levels of psychological distress amongst adolescents (12-18/19 years) generally increased with school year, with sixth year students reporting higher levels of difficulty and lower levels of positive wellbeing. Problem drinking, substance use and behavioural problems also increased across the school years and were highest amongst sixth years.
The Study found that the majority of young adults (those aged 19 to 25) were functioning well but experiencing higher levels of distress than adolescents, with approximately 40% with elevated levels of stress and anxiety. 46% reported ‘often’ being stressed, and 14% being ‘highly’ stressed by their financial situation. Young adults stressed by finances were more likely to drink excessively and to misuse substances than their peers experiencing less financial stress.
Half of young adults were shown to engage in ‘problem drinking’ . The Study noted that “Young people that had difficulty in coping are significantly more likely to be classified as engaging in harmful drinking behaviour or having possible alcohol dependence.”
Ms. Sheehan commented “The Study shows that mental health difficulties emerge in early adolescence, peak in the late teens and early 20s and, in general, coincide with a decrease in protective factors such as self-esteem, optimism and positive coping strategies; this is a particularly vulnerable period in a young person’s life and clearly points to the need for early intervention”
“A key finding highlighted in the report concerns the positive role of ‘One Good Adult’ in a young person’s life and suggests that every young person needs at least one supportive adult in their lives, such as a family member, a relative, a teacher or a close friend to promote their mental health and well-being. In relation to alcohol, one of the key messages in the report is that ‘The presence of one good adult may moderate drinking behaviour in adolescence’”.