scotlandBoys are less likely to have mental health or emotional problems, and are more generally more satisfied with life when they are younger. However, girls are less at risk from suicide or drug-related issues, and scored higher in pro-social behaviour, according to a report published by NHS Scotland.

Scotland’s Mental Health: Children & Young People 2013, was commissioned by the Scottish Government to monitor the mental health profile for children and young people aged, on average, 17 and under. Boys aged four to 12 were 37% more likely to have emotional and behavioural problems compared to girls, but by the time they reached the ages of 15 and 16 (class S4), the reverse was true: on average girls were 39% more likely to have such problems compared to boys.

Emotional dissatisfaction increased with age - just over half of Scottish pupils (age 10 to 11) reported feeling happy with their life; this dropped to 43% for 13-14 year-olds and 33% for 15-16 year-olds.And compared to 13 year olds (S2), the odds of 15-16 year olds (S4 pupils) having emotional problems increased by 41%.

Living in deprived areas also had a huge impact on mental health outcomes and issues with alcohol. This fluctuated in 16 to 19 year olds year-on-year with no obvious pattern or trend. Girls under 19 were less likely to be admitted to hospital with drug-related disorders than boys of the same age; and 2.1 per 100,0 000 a year committed suicide compared to boys (4.4 per 100,000 a year.

Depite this, the chances of having a ‘normal’ pro-social behaviour score improved over time for all three age groups; four to 12 year olds increased by 3% per year between 2003 and 2011; 13-14 year olds by 4% per year; and those aged 15-16 by 3% per year.

Overall, the mental health of children and young people has remained stable over the last decade, but policies on nutrition and physical activity, drugs, alcohol, suicide prevention, poverty, and inequality can improve outcomes.

To read the report in full, visit