The Children’s Society analysed the findings of a survey of 11-16-year-olds in every region of England about their satisfaction with life.
Of the children who took part in the West Midlands, 21 per cent – about 78,000 – gave low scores of less than five out of ten when asked to rate their life satisfaction.
Scores in the region ranged from an average of 6.9 out of 10 in Coventry to 5.6 in Telford and Wrekin.
The average score in the Shropshire Council area was 6.7.
The charity is now making a call for regular assessments of children’s well-being and a new strategy to support them.
The findings, from the Sport England Active Lives Children and Young People Survey, pre-date the Covid outbreak and bosses fear the pandemic will only make the situation worse.
Mark Russell, chief executive at The Children’s Society, said: “It’s heart-breaking to learn that even before Covid so many children in the West Midlands felt dissatisfied with their lives, that they lacked purpose and were feeling unhappy at the time of this survey.
“The fear is that the pandemic will only exacerbate this situation, with all the indications from our frontline support for children and our research being that the pandemic is taking a huge toll on young people’s well-being.
“This situation is not acceptable or inevitable, but as a society we need a better understanding of how children are feeling and what is causing this in order to decide how best to send this worrying trend into reverse.
“We are calling on the Government to introduce the kind of regular national measurement of children’s well-being which is already in place for adults – but in the meantime we are urging local areas to take action.
“We want councils to carry out regular assessments of children’s well-being and work with partners to develop a local well-being strategy including the development of services which support children and young people’s well-being.
“While it will take time before we start to see improvements, with concerted efforts from everyone we can start to help children feel happier about their lives and give them real hope for the future.”
The Children’s Society says local well-being strategies could include the introduction of open access, drop-in emotional health hubs, offering support without the need for an appointment as well as investment in youth services and early help for struggling families.
The charity is calling on councils to sign a joint letter it has drafted to the Secretaries of State for Education and Health, which calls on the Government to start measuring children’s well-being.
More than 100,000 children, aged five to 16, across England completed the survey during lesson time in schools during the 2018/19 academic year.
The Children’s Society looked at responses by more than 57,000 children, aged 11-16, to three questions developed by the Office for National Statistics as national measures of children’s well-being.
Children were asked to state on a scale of 0 to 10 how satisfied they feel with their life nowadays, how happy they felt yesterday and whether they feel that their life is worthwhile.
The charity’s analysis found that 22 per cent in the West Midlands, an estimated 82,000, reported being unhappy the previous day, while 19 per cent – more than 70,000 children – felt the things they did in life were not worthwhile.
The Children’s Society’s 2020 Good Childhood Report, published in August, highlighted a fall in the well-being of 10-15-year-olds in the UK between 2009 and 2018 based on findings from a separate survey.
It showed that school and appearance are the aspects of life the greatest numbers of children are unhappy with.