Findings from the Child of the New Century study, which follows thousands of young people born at the turn of the century, have helped make mental health part of the national conversation. They have helped to inform public health and education policy.
The study gave us the first complete picture of young people’s mental health in the UK for over ten years.
It revealed the scale of a national problem, with nearly a quarter of girls and one in 10 boys experiencing high symptoms of depression at age 14.
Researchers also examined the factors linked to poor mental health to find out who was most at risk. Among girls, those from less well-off families were more likely to experience mental ill-health than those who were better-off.
Other factors, such as being overweight, not getting along with peers and being bullied, were also associated with high depressive symptoms at age 14.
These findings focused national attention on the urgent issue of how to better protect young people’s mental health.
It prompted new government policy and strategies for improving young people’s mental health.
This includes directly shaping how Public Health England is developing support services as well as what advice the Department for Education gives schools.