There are calls for more mental health support to be offered in UK schools, as a new report reveals school-age girls are reporting increasing levels of unhappiness.
The Children's Society's 15th annual Good Childhood Report found that 14 per cent of girls aged between 10 and 15 say they are unhappy with their lives as a whole, while 34 per cent are not satisfied with their appearance, marking an increase from the 30 per cent who reported the same during the 2009-10 period.
Social media and celebrity culture may be partly to blame for these growing feelings of insecurity, but the report authors believe that the government, schools and the media all have a part to play in providing extra support to girls to boost their self-esteem and general mental wellbeing.
Although boys of secondary school age are typically less concerned about their appearance than their female counterparts, The Children's Society's research showed that 20 per cent of young males are unhappy with their looks, indicating that one-fifth struggle with self-esteem issues.
Matthew Reed, chief executive of the charity, commented: "It is desperately worrying that so many of our young people are suffering rather than thriving. Girls are having a particularly tough time and it's clear that concerted action is needed to tackle this problem."
A spokesperson for the government added: "We want every young person to grow up feeling supported and confident about their future."
As a result, they explained that the government is working with schools, the parents of students and the media to find ways to boost young people's confidence and to make sure their self-esteem issues and insecurities do not adversely impact their education.
However, it is not just children of secondary school age who reported feelings of unhappiness about their looks. The Children's Society also questioned nursery staff, nannies and childminders who look after under-10s and found that many had heard children describing themselves or others as fat, ugly or expressing sadness at one or more parts of their body.