CALLS have been made for government to invest more heavily in physical activities as a "shocking" study suggested over half of Scots may have suffered mental illness by the age of 24.

Research by the University of Glasgow for the Scottish Sports Futures charity found that while NHS guidelines recommend 60 minutes of daily physical activity, only a third of young people are meeting these guidelines, representing a decrease in previous years.

It said that this is likely due to sedentary behaviour developed during the lockdowns.

The findings conclude that twelve to fifteen year olds are the less active age group and that girls remained too "embarrassed to participate"

It found that some 90% of young people use local streets and pavements for activity with no access to sports facilities and taht activity leaders do not know how to be inclusive with young people with a disability.

Now SSF is calling on the Scottish Government, sporting governing bodies and local authorities to "significantly" invest more in access to physical activities and access to sports facilities for young vulnerable people following what it called " shocking findings" highlighting the challenges facing young Scots living in poverty and the impact of Covid-19 lockdowns.

The research went on to find that 26 of some 40 people who were interviewed for the study reported having a mental illness by the age of 24 and some had developed problems before the age of 14.

It found that girls were more likely to suffer and were more likely to worry that they had missed something their friends had seen on social media.

The SSF say the interviews were not comprehensive of the experiences of young people across Scotland but acts as a guide for future strategy and can be used in identifying and understanding key challenges of young people.

Between 500,000 and 700,000 people in Scotland were estimated to have suffered from an Adverse Childhood Experience (ACEs).

Individuals with more than four ACEs were more likely to be at higher risk of obesity, to smoke, experience a limiting long-term condition, have a cardiovascular disease, have lower mental wellbeing and not meet physical activity guidelines.

The charity commissioned the literature and data review, alongside interviews of young people to better understand the trends affecting young people in Scotland today, the role of physical activity and the impact Covid-19 and the lockdowns played in their lives.

It found that poverty was the greatest barrier to health and wellbeing and the driver of emotional challenges. One in four children in Scotland live in poverty and one in five live in absolute poverty.

It found that Glasgow has the highest rate of childhood poverty in Scotland with a reported 34% of young people living in relative poverty.

And almost 50% of families surveyed in Glasgow highlighted financial strains or difficulties from the pandemic.

The analysis states that young people were more likely to be less physically active, are at higher risk of obesity, have higher levels of stress and depression and experience social isolation, shame and stigma.

Non-white young people living in poverty were more likely to experience additional barriers.

HeraldScotland: Scottish Sports Futures Scottish Sports Futures

Kirsty McNab, chief executive of Scottish Sports Futures said, “We pride ourselves in being truly needs led, to understand and then adapt services to alleviate the effects of living in poverty. However, we wanted to get up to date facts and figures, alongside real life lived experience post Covid.

“This is shocking evidence of the harsh reality of living in deprived communities. Sport, physical activity combined with human connection and services working together, can play a huge part in addressing and improving mental and physical health, buffer the effects of trauma and ACEs, and build skills and qualifications to bridge the attainment gap. Now is the time for significant investment to ensure things to do not get worse.”

Kirsty Giles, project manager at Violence Reduction Unit Scotland said: “This new report highlights the need now, more than ever, for us to invest in our young people’s health and wellbeing. Access to sport and physical activity is a proven successful conduit to that.

“We all want what is best for young people. Taking a trauma-informed approach to helping them must involve listening to young people’s voices, in particular those facing poverty and inequalities.

“The research is clear - young people across Scotland need our support and it is crucial we all work together to ensure they are provided with hope for the future.

“We will support SSF as a partner, in continuing their trauma-informed work in changing lives through sport and physical activity.”