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A leading mental health charity has warned an increasing number of young people are reaching crisis, amid a sharp rise in the rate of antidepressants being prescribed to Tayside’s teenagers.
Figures obtained via a Freedom of Information request reveal prescriptions of antidepressant drugs to youngsters aged 10-17 in the region increased by 15% last year, with the largest number handed out to those aged 13 and older.
The sharpest rise was seen among 17-year-olds, where prescriptions increased from 289 in 2016/17 to 367 in 2017/18. Children as young as five, and at least four under the age of 10, were also given the drugs last year.
NHS Tayside stressed the number of prescribed antidepressants should not be used to infer a rise in the number of patients with depression.
The health authority said the medication can be used for a wide range of conditions, including pain and bedwetting.
However, mental health campaigners have expressed concern at the figures and insisted they show more young people in the region are struggling with their mental health.
Toni Giugliano, policy manager at the Mental Health Foundation Scotland, said: “The numbers are worrying but sadly not surprising.
“We need to do more to identify and tackle the root causes, and create emotionally healthy school environments where young people are taught how to manage stressful situations.
“It’s remarkable that many teachers still do not receive basic mental health training. Organisations have been calling for this for the last decade and we still haven’t made significant progress.”
Mr Giugliano said a small percentage of the rise might be attributable to a growing awareness of mental wellbeing. However, he said studies showed young people increasingly felt overwhelmed by pressure to succeed, body image and stress.