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Why Are Young Irish Women The Most Depressed In Europe?

A recent study shows that Irish women between the ages of 15-24 have double the levels of depression when compared to the EU average.

Young Irish women are suffering the highest levels of moderate to severe symptoms of depression among their generation in the EU, according to a new report.

The study highlights how Ireland as a developed and Internet-adjacent country has caused pressures on teenagers and young women to evolve into cyberbullying issues, eating disorders such as bulimia or anorexia, and homelessness.

The extent of psychological anguish felt by women aged 15-24 years shows "worrying levels of hidden mental health struggles."

In most European countries, women in this age group were more likely to suffer from depression than young men, the report from Eurofound, the EU agency for the improvement of living and working conditions, shows.

But the greatest gender gaps are in Ireland, Denmark, Germany and Sweden.

Some 17% of this age group of women in Ireland report being moderately or severely depressed compared to an EU average of 9%.

Ireland scores particularly highly on the harrowing scale due to rates of child and youth homelessness creeping up the scale somewhat dramatically. 

In Ireland, France and Denmark around one in three registered homeless are children.

Another reason Irish women's brain health scores so poorly overall is due to the difficulty in accessing vital health and public services. Ian O'Grady, president of the Psychological Society of Ireland, said anxiety is one of the main difficulties that young people are encountering in the modern age.

"Psychologists can, and should be, to the forefront of support for young people in this area due to the range of evidence-based interventions at their disposal," he said.

Ireland's mental health system has been widely criticised in recent years for its potentially dangerous systemic structures, understaffing, expense and short-staffed clinics. 

Recent HSE figures have indicated that only 38% of the recommended number of psychologists are working in the HSE's Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services. 

At the end of March, there were 2,738 children waiting for mental health treatment. The numbers waiting over a year jumped 336, up from 296 in February.

The report added: "There are also indicators that young women are more likely to handle upsetting events internally - a factor linked to depression. These include higher rates of self-harm and eating disorders, such as anorexia or bulimia, among this group compared to young men."

Irish women also, although essentially liberated with the repealing of the Eighth Amendment in January, have as recently as last year had their autonomic rights openly debated and still risk public berating should they exercise them. 

The HSE's recent CervicalCheck scandal also left women in Ireland feeling betrayed by their health service with no port-of-call in a time of dire personal tragedy. 

There’s no doubt that Irish women have more rights than their mothers, grandmothers and great grandmothers, but gender equality in Ireland has also yet to be achieved in many areas.

Men still dominate the workplace and are the main decision-makers in business and politics while women often find themselves lagging behind when it comes to equal opportunities and income.

To many, reports like the one above will appear surprising. But, when discussed openly, clears significantly. 

Ireland has some work to do to meet the objectives of the Strategic Engagement for Gender Equality.

There have been improvements, such as the introduction of two weeks paid paternity leave, but we’re painfully lagging behind when it comes to the provision of affordable childcare and the number of female decision-makers in business and politics. 

And until these problems are rectified, Ireland's young women will continue to suffer. 

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