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HBSC Scotland publish new national report

The 2018 Health Behaviour in School-aged Children study in Scotland, led by researchers at the MRC/CSO Social and Public Health Sciences Unit, University of Glasgow, provides new data and insights about the health and wellbeing of the nation’s young people.

Key findings from the report launched today include that the majority (85%) of young people reported high levels of life satisfaction in 2018, while almost one in five adolescents rated their health as excellent. However, the report also revealed the lowest levels of adolescent confidence seen in 24 years, with only 51% of adolescents in Scotland reporting that they often or always feeling confident in themselves.

Dr Jo Inchley, International Coordinator of the HBSC study and Principal Investigator for the Scottish HBSC team, said “We’ve seen significant improvements in recent years in areas such as substance use and eating behaviours. But at the same time, new challenges such as social media are increasingly impacting on how young people live their lives, and these can have a significant impact on their wellbeing.”

More findings from the report include:

Mental health and wellbeing

  • 22% of adolescents rated their health as ‘excellent’, but 15–year-old girls were the least likely to report ‘excellent’ health (12%). 

  • The prevalence of multiple health complaints is at its highest for both boys and girls since 1994. Overall, 35% of young people experienced multiple health complaints every week. The most common health complaints were sleep difficulties, feeling nervous and feeling irritable.

  • 37% of adolescents were classified as having low mood (33% boys, 41% girls) and 14% were at risk of depression (11% boys, 17% girls). Both low mood and risk of depression increased with age. 

  • All the mental health and wellbeing indicators were significantly associated with family affluence, with poorer outcomes for those from families with lower affluence.


  • The average sleep duration on weekdays was 8.3 hours for 13-year-olds and 7.8 hours for 15-year-olds – the recommended amount of sleep for teenagers is 8 to 10 hours each night. 

  • The proportion of young people reporting sleep difficulties more than once a week has increased from 23% in 2014 to 30% in 2018. 

  • Among 13 and 15-year-olds, sleep difficulties were more common among girls than boys and young people from lower affluence families were more likely to report difficulties in getting to sleep than those from higher affluence families (25% versus 35%).

Social media and online communication

  • Nearly all (95%) young people said they owned a smartphone with a connection to the internet.

  • The vast majority (92%) of 15-year-olds kept their smartphones in their bedroom at night.

  • Preference for online (versus face-to-face) communication was higher amongst 15-year-olds than 11 and 13-year-olds.

  • Nearly one in ten (9%) adolescents were categorised as having problematic social media use.

At home and school life

  • Overall 38% of young people reported high teacher support

  • The proportion of girls who find it easy to talk to their father has increased from 48% in 1990 to 67% in 2018.

  • 36% of young people reported eating a meal with their family every day.

  • Vigorous physical activity was higher among boys than girls. 47%) of boys and 41% of girls reported taking part in leisure-time vigorous exercise at least four times a week. The gender difference was greatest at age 15 (40% vs 29%).

Visit the HBSC Scotland website for more information about the study.

see here for further details

item 5939
[30-01-2020 to 30-06-2020]


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