Growing concerns about children and young people’s emotional health

Data from three major surveys of children and young people’s behaviours and attitudes – the Health and Social Care Information Centre’s smoking, Drinking and Drugs survey, the School Health Education Unit (SHEU) Young People into 2015 study and the Children’s Society’s Good Childhood 2015 report  – and a Cabinet Office analysis of risk behaviours amongst young people released over the summer provide a detailed insight into the lives of children and young people today.

The reports suggest that while traditional risk-taking behaviours such as smoking, drinking and drug use by young people appear to be declining, it seems there has been an increase in children and young people suffering from poor emotional health, with young women apparently most affected. Key emerging issues identified by the studies include self-harm, low self-esteem, concerns about body image, safety online, relationships with friends and anxiety about the future. The PSHE Association has produced a synthesis of the research studies which provide an important insight into the way children and young people across the country are feeling.


Chief Executive Joe Hayman said:

“The reports we have seen in recent months seem to confirm what PSHE Association members consistently tell us: that pupils’ emotional health, and the linked issues of self-esteem, body image, safety and relationships both online and offline, and anxieties about the future are some of the most pressing challenges we have to face both in PSHE education specifically and as a society.

These issues do seem to affect young women disproportionately, yet just today, we saw the first results from Girlguiding’s annual Girls’ Attitudes Survey. This survey suggests that less than half of young women are getting the education they need.

We call again on Ministers to prioritise young people’s wellbeing, and ensure that every school has a high-quality PSHE programme with emotional health at its heart.”


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