Objective: To describe the emotional and physical health concerns of young people, and identify the concerns for which young people are more likely to seek help.
Methods: We surveyed a representative cross-sectional samples of students from 11 to 18 years of age from 24 Victorian secondary schools in late 1997 within the Health of Young Victorians Study. Included in this survey were items describing worries or concerns of physical and emotional health. Prevalence rates, Chi-square, and logistic regression analyses were used to describe relationships.
Results: 2361 questionnaires were completed (53% male, response rate 70%). Overall, most frequent reports concerned feelings of depression (40%), worries about weight (37%), worries about self confidence (34%), and trouble falling or staying asleep (30%). Females tended to report a greater range of health concerns. The most frequent reports, by gender, were worries about their weight (52% females), and feelings of depression (30% males). Feelings of being bullied (20%), and concerns about sex, drugs and alcohol (7-11%) were reported equally frequently by males and females. In contrast to the high levels of health concerns reported, few students also reported seeing someone about them other than parents or friends. This finding appeared consistent across ages and for both sexes; with higher rates of seeking help for their physical rather than emotional health concerns.
Discussion: These results show that adolescents across Victoria are reporting high levels of concerns or worries about their health which differ across age and gender. They are more likely to report concerns about emotional health, but less likely to seek professional help than for physical concerns.