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Changing adolescence

Changing adolescence: Social trends and mental health

Edited by Ann Hagell
Foreword by Michael Rutter
Copyright Date: 2012
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  • Book Info
    Changing adolescence
    Book Description:

    The general well-being of British adolescents has been the topic of considerable debate in recent years, but too often this is based on myth rather than fact. Are today's young people more stressed, anxious, distressed or antisocial than they used to be? What does research evidence tell us about the adolescent experience today and how it has changed over time? And how do trends in adolescent well-being since the 1970s relate to changes in education, leisure, communities and family life in that time? This unique volume brings together the main findings from the Nuffield Foundation's Changing Adolescence Programme and explores how social change may affect young people's behaviour, mental health and transitions toward adulthood. As well as critiquing research evidence, which will be of interest to a wide academic audience, the book will inform the wider debate on this subject among policy makers and service providers, voluntary organisations and campaign groups.

    eISBN: 978-1-4473-0105-9
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-ii)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. iii-iv)
  3. List of tables and figures
    (pp. v-vi)
  4. Acronyms and abbreviations
    (pp. vii-viii)
  5. Notes on contributors
    (pp. ix-xiv)
  6. Acknowledgements
    (pp. xv-xvi)
    Ann Hagell
  7. Foreword
    (pp. xvii-xx)
    Michael Rutter

    This important volume very usefully brings together the concepts and findings that are relevant with respect to time trends in the mental health of young people. It is important, however, to note at the outset that, because of publication delays in the data sets used, almost all the findings apply to the time periodbeforethe current worldwide financial crisis and, therefore, before the present Coalition government. Undoubtedly, this will mean that the time trends reported here will not reflect the huge recent rise in youth unemployment or the increase in inflation. The implication is that the book’s attention to...

  8. ONE Introduction
    (pp. 1-8)
    Ann Hagell

    Adolescents’ lives are shaped by the social context in which they live. A number of key social institutions structure and dominate their lives, such as those of education, family and part-time employment. It is an intensely social time of life; friends, peers, classmates, parents, extended family, teachers and neighbourhood groups are all critical. Pressures and expectations arise from several directions at once, and although we are more healthy, wealthy and comfortable than at any time in the past, British teenagers are undoubtedly subject to a range of stresses.

    The general well-being of British adolescents has been the topic of considerable...

  9. TWO Time trends in young people’s emotional and behavioural problems, 1975-2005
    (pp. 9-26)
    Stephan Collishaw

    Trends in child and adolescent mental health can be seen as a barometer of the success of society’s efforts to improve children’s well-being and life chances. Improving the mental health of children was identified as a key strategic target inThe Children’s Plan(DCSF, 2007a). In this context, evidence of long-term deterioration in the mental health and behavioural adjustment of young people (Rutter and Smith, 1995; Maughan et al, 2005), and unfavourable comparisons with child wellbeing in other countries (UNICEF, 2007), has provoked significant concern among policy makers and health professionals in the UK (see, for example, Layard and Dunn,...

  10. THREE Stress and mental health in adolescence: interrelationship and time trends
    (pp. 27-46)
    Ann Hagell, Seija Sandberg and Robert MacDonald

    ‘Stress’ is a term often used in the broader media and public debates about the changing experiences of adolescents in our society. Indeed, it has sometimes been thought of as a defining characteristic of the adolescent life stage, as part of the classic formulation of the classic ‘storm and stress’ hypothesis (Hall, 1904). It is also occasionally suggested that young people’s lives today are more stressful than they used to be. From our perspective, with a focus on adolescent mental health trends, if this is true then it is potentially important.

    Butareyoung people’s lives more stressful? How can...

  11. FOUR Trends in adolescent time use in the United Kingdom
    (pp. 47-74)
    Ann Hagell, Stephen C. Peck, Nicole Zarrett, J. Ignacio Giménez-Nadal and Jennifer Symonds

    Asking how young people’s use of time in the UK has changed over recent decades is an important, but deceptively simple, question. How we use our time is both a measurement of direct change, and is also an index of more subtle, underlying shifts in social values and preoccupations, so it is crucial to our task of looking at social change. Understandingwhatyoung people are doing andwhothey are doing it with is an important anchor for understanding the social patterning of interactions that are part of the transition to adulthood for young people.

    The way that children...

  12. FIVE Trends in parenting: can they help explain time trends in problem behaviour?
    (pp. 75-92)
    Frances Gardner, Stephan Collishaw, Barbara Maughan, Jacqueline Scott, Karen Schepman and Ann Hagell

    Has parenting changed over recent decades? Do parents supervise and control their offspring more or less closely than they used to? Do they show more or less parental involvement? Spend more or less time in caring for young people, in conversation and joint activities? The period from 1970 to the end of the 1990s saw a rise in behaviour problems by young people. Over the same period there were dramatic changes in family size and structure, and in the working lives of parents. Understandably, people have questioned whether there is a link between these trends. Debates have raged over a...

  13. SIX Educational changes and possible links with adolescent well-being: 1970s to 2000s
    (pp. 93-116)
    Ann Hagell, John Gray, Maurice Galton and Colleen McLaughlin

    Among the various things that may have changed in adolescent lives over the last 30 years are secondary school experiences. Education constitutes a vast and significant social institution with which young people are directly engaged for a great deal of time (indeed, approximately 15,000 hours; see Rutter et al, 1979). We have to start with an assumption that it matters, and if so, thatchangesin educational experiences may matter for changes in social and emotional well-being.

    But what do we know about whether school experiences are significant for the kinds of outcomes we are interested in?Doesschooling matter...

  14. SEVEN Trends in adolescent substance use and their implications for understanding trends in mental health
    (pp. 117-150)
    Ann Hagell, Judith Aldridge, Petra Meier, Tim Millar, Jennifer Symonds and Michael Donmall

    A clear social change over the second half of the 20th century was the increase in the proportion of young people using alcohol and different kinds of other drugs, which have become a conspicuous part of the social landscape. The shifting pattern of use by young people and the possible links to trends in mental health problems are the subject of this chapter.

    The interface between adolescence and substance use is particularly salient. To start with, adolescence is generally when people begin using substances. It is thus a particularly interesting period with respect to the natural history of substance use;...

  15. EIGHT Some thoughts on the broader context: neighbourhoods and peers
    (pp. 151-164)
    Ann Hagell, Sarah Curtis, Shari Daya, Yasmin Khatib, Rachel Pain, Catherine Rothon, Stephen Stansfeld and Sara Fuller

    In this section, we briefly raise three topics that are part of the broader context of adolescent development, specifically with a view to establishing what we know about their importance in adolescent mental health outcomes and also – as with the other chapters in this volume – with a view to assessing evidence for social change in these areas over recent decades. Our aim here, as with the other chapters in this volume, was to highlight key findings and identify interesting avenues for further research, although in this instance we have chosen to present brief introductions to these topics with pointers to...

  16. NINE Reflections and implications
    (pp. 165-178)
    Ann Hagell and Sharon Witherspoon

    The chapters in this volume summarise and integrate the results from a series of research reviews funded by the Nuffield Foundation in the late 2000s, with a view to shedding light on what we do and what we do not know about some key changes in the lives of young people over the last three decades in the UK, and the relevance of these changes for symptoms of mental health. The work has brought together a range of topics that are not normally considered in the round. It aimed to test what we knew in the way of substantive findings...

  17. References
    (pp. 179-222)
  18. APPENDIX I: The Nuffield Foundation’s Changing Adolescence Programme
    (pp. 223-224)
  19. APPENDIX II: Reference list for primary data sources for graph data in Chapter seven
    (pp. 225-226)
  20. Index
    (pp. 227-232)
  21. Back Matter
    (pp. 233-233)