Young Persons Behaviour and Attitudes Survey 2022: Mental Health and Wellbeing

Date published: 20 December 2023

The Department of Health today published the “Young Persons Behaviour and Attitudes Survey 2022: Mental Health and Wellbeing” bulletin.

The Young Persons Behaviour and Attitudes Survey (YPBAS) is a school based survey carried out among 11-16 year olds (school years 8 to 12). It is commissioned jointly by a number of government departments and includes questions on a wide range of topics. Eight rounds of the survey have now taken place: 2000, 2003, 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019 and 2022. This publication presents an overview of the mental health and wellbeing modules from the 2022 survey.

Key Findings

  • half of respondents (51%) reported hardly ever or never feeling lonely; 41% reported feeling lonely occasionally or some of the time, whilst 7% reported feeling lonely often or always.
  • girls were more likely than boys to report feeling left out, alone, and having no-one to talk to.
  • when asked whether they ever had concerns or worries about their mental health, 19% of respondents indicated they definitely have had concerns and a further 32% indicated to some extent. The corresponding findings from the previous survey in 2019 were 15% and 27%.
  • around two-thirds (65%) of those who had concerns did not seek help; the most common reason given for not seeking help was that they felt they could handle things on their own.
  • on the Warwick-Edinburgh Mental Wellbeing Scale, girls had a lower mean wellbeing score than boys.
  • the majority of respondents (96%) had friends/family that did things to make them happy, that made them feel loved and that would see that they were taken care of. Similarly high proportions were found for the other social support questions relating to having people to rely on and having people who provide support and encouragement.
  • the majority of respondents (98%) used at least one social media site and of those who did so, 89% reported using it daily or on most days. 
  • the proportion of girls (57%) that compare themselves to others on social media was three times that for boys (19%).
  • a higher proportion of girls than boys monitor the number of likes/comments/shares their posts get and feel that their mood is impacted by this.


Notes to editors: 

1. This publication presents an overview of mental health, wellbeing, loneliness, social support and social media modules from the 2022 Young Persons Behaviour and Attitudes Survey. This is the eighth run of the school based survey, with previous surveys in 2000, 2003, 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016 and 2019.

2. The fieldwork for the survey was conducted by the Central Survey Unit of NI Statistics and Research Agency (NISRA) and covered the period September 2022 to March 2023.

3. A total of 7,498 children in school years 8 to 12 completed the survey. Due to the high level of interest amongst policy makers on the views and behaviours of young people, topics were split across two questionnaires to accommodate additional questions. Version A was completed by 3,726 children and version B by 3,772 children. The mental health and wellbeing modules ran in version B.

4. The results are based on information that has been weighted by year group, sex and religion in order to reflect the composition of the Northern Ireland post-primary population.

5. As the results are based on data collected from a sample of the population, they are subject to sampling error. This should be taken into consideration when interpreting the results. Differences reported are those that are statistically significant at the 95% confidence level.

6. The Northern Ireland Multiple Deprivation Measure 2017 (NIMDM) was used as a measure of deprivation.  The NIMDM 2017 is the official measure of spatial deprivation in Northern Ireland. 

7. This publication is available on the Department website Young persons behaviour & attitudes survey | Department of Health (

8. Additional information is available from:

Public Health Information and Research Branch
Information Analysis Directorate
Department of Health
Annex 2, Castle Buildings
Belfast BT4 3SQ
Telephone:          028 9052 2340

9. For media enquiries please contact the DoH Press Office by email

10. Follow us on X @healthdpt and linkedIn Department of Health NI | LinkedIn

11. The Executive Information Service operates an out of hours service For Media Enquiries Only between 1800hrs and 0800hrs Monday to Friday and at weekends and public holidays. The duty press officer can be contacted on 028 9037 8110.

Share this page

Back to top