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Prevalence of psychological problems in Irish school going adolescents

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  13 June 2014

Deborah James
North Eastern Health Board, Regional Child and Family Centre, St Mary's Hospital, Dublin Road, Drogheda, Co Louth, Ireland


Objectives: To establish the prevalence of psychological problems in older adolescents.

Method: The Youth Self Report was completed by teenagers in a class group. Percentages scoring above clinical threshold were calculated. Gender differences and variances between school type were examined.

Results: Seven hundred and seventy-nine students participated in the study, 373 males and 406 females. Of the girls 23% reported problems in the clinical range on total problem score compared with 19% of boys. Significant gender differences were noted on total problem and internalising scores but not on externalising scores. The levels of psychological problems did not appear to be influenced by school type. Of the total group 6.4% reported thinking of suicide frequently (almost twice as many girls as boys) and this rose to 25% of girls who scored in the clinical range of total problem score and 15% of boys.

Conclusions: Twenty-one per cent of adolescents had problems in the clinical range. Girls reported more problems than boys. It was surprising to find that there was no gender difference in reported levels of externalising problems. The high expression of suicidal and thoughts of self-harm in those with externalising and internalising problems is of concern. This highlights the vulnerability of older adolescents as they tend to fall between the current child and adolescent services. Service provision for this population should be a priority in rural areas and on a national basis.

Original Papers
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2000

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