Parents are failing to notice the real causes of mental health pressures on girls, says new research by Girlguiding.

According to the Girlguiding Girls’ Attitudes Survey 2015, self-harming was the biggest health concern for girls aged between 11 and 21, followed by smoking, mental illness, depression and eating disorders. In the last year two in five girls in this age group (37%) have needed help with mental health issues.

The survey, which questioned 1,574 girls and young women aged between 7 and 21 on a range of issues, also found that 82% of 11 to 21 year-old girls felt that adults don’t recognise the pressures they are experiencing.

Girls aged 13 to 21 reported that their biggest concerns were mental health problems, cyber-bullying and getting a job. However, they felt that their parents are still more worried about drug use, alcohol and smoking – issues that have not been girls’ top concerns since 2010.

In the 7 to 11 age range, more than eight in ten girls (83%) reported feeling sad or down and 16% said this was because of anxieties about their physical appearance.

The findings suggest that girls do not believe that adults are able to keep up with current threats to their well-being.

Julie Bentley, Chief Executive for Girlguiding, commented: ‘The findings in this year’s Girls’ Attitudes Survey provide a stark warning about the fragile state of UK girls’ well-being.

‘We need the support of decision-makers to start an open conversation about girls’ concerns. By listening to girls, we can work together to tackle the root causes of their distress – and champion their potential.’

Eighteen-year-old Guide Katherine Bradfield, added that the survey revealed “what life is really like for girls in the UK today – and it’s a troubling picture.

“Girls are battling adversity at every corner – as everyday sexism and harassment remain a constant, unwanted presence in our lives.

“Now we see the damaging consequences of these pressures, as they take their toll on girls’ mental wellbeing.

“We’ve given a voice to girls’ concerns. Now it’s time for real change to tackle this damning status quo.”

Source: BBC News