Study sheds light on why young women are more likely to encounter mental health problems

A new study has offered up an interesting suggestion as to why young women in Britain appear to be more likely to develop mental health conditions than young men.

Figures from the Office for National Statistics’ (ONS) Well-being, Inequalities, Sustainability and Environment (WISE) division have revealed that, between the ages of eight and 15, boys tend to spend twice as much time as girls participating in sporting activities.

Following the news, experts have warned that there may be a “direct correlation” between a lack of physical activity and poorer mental health in adolescence – as numerous other studies have previously revealed that leading an active lifestyle is crucial in maintaining sound mental health.

The ONS’ report reveals that girls spend approximately 25 minutes on sporting activities in the average day – in comparison with 40 minutes for boys. The figures also suggest that young women are less likely to participate in games and activities, or spend time outdoors.

Meanwhile, separate research suggests that around one in four British teenage girls are living with depression – in comparison with just nine per cent of boys.

Naturally, poor mental health in adolescence is likely to lead to further mental health complications in the future.

Chris Wright, Head of Wellbeing at children’s charity The Youth Sport Trust (YST), said: “There is a direct correlation between girls’ future life chances and the amount of physical activity they do in their younger years.

“Quite often high-flying businesswomen talk about being very involved in sport when they were younger. Doing sport as children appears to help girls feel empowered and able to achieve things.

“Lack of activity correlates to a greater decline in wellbeing among children and teenagers. All the evidence suggests that if you’re inactive you’re likely to be less happy.”

The research has led to calls for the Government to do more to promote women’s sport going forward.

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