In 2022 the percentage of children and young people with a mental health difficulty was 18%for children aged 7 to 16 years and 22% for young people aged 17-24 years.
From the years 2017 to 2020 rates of probable mental disorder in children aged 7 to 16 years rose from 1 in 9 (12.1%) to 1 in 6 (16.7%).
From the years 2017 to 2022 rates of probable mental disorder in young people aged 17 to 19 years rose from 1 in 10 (10.1%) to 1 in 4 (25.5%).
In younger children aged 7 to 10 years, the prevalence of a probable mental disorder was nearly twice as high in boys (19.7%) as in girls (10.5%).
In young people aged 17 to 24 years, the pattern was reversed, with much higher rates in young women (31.2%) than young men (13.3%).
Suicide is the largest cause of mortality for young people under 35. Suicide rates have been increasing in recent years.[i]
Some groups of children and young people are disproportionately impacted by mental health problems largely driven by a complex interplay of social and environmental determinants of poor mental health. This includes:
People who identify as LGBT+ have higher rates of common mental health problems and lower wellbeing than heterosexual people.[ii]
Black boys and young men report lower levels of diagnosable mental health difficulties at the age of 11 years than white or mixed heritage boys. But, while sample sizes are generally small, national data suggests that from early adulthood Black men are 11 times as likely as white young men to present with major psychiatric conditions; three times more likely to present with suicidal risk; and 1.5 times more likely to present with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).[iii]
Refugees and asylum seekers are more likely to experience poor mental health (including depression, PTSD, and other anxiety disorders) than the general population.[iv]
Children and young people with learning disabilities are more than four times more likely to develop a mental health problem than average. This means that 14 per cent or one in seven of all children and young people with mental health difficulties in the UK will also have a learning disability.[v]
70%of children with autism have at least one mental health condition.[vi]
Around one in three young carers are estimated to experience a mental health problem. The estimated total number of young carers in the UK is around 800,000.[vii]
Children from low-income families are four times more likely to experience mental health problems by the age of 11 than children from higher income families. [viii]
Experiences of mental health support
There is an average 10-year delay between young people displaying first symptoms and getting help.[ix]
In 2021-2022, of the 1.4 million children estimated to have a mental health disorder, less than half (48%) received at least 1 contact with NHS Children and Young People’s Mental Health Services and 34% received at least 2 contacts with CYPMHS. This equates to only 471,000 children accessing treatment.[x]
The percentage of children who had their referrals closed before treatment has increased for the first time in years. In 2021-22, 32% of children who were referred did not receive treatment compared to 24% in 2020-21.[xi]
The average waiting time between a child being referred to NHS CYPMHS and starting treatment increased from 32 days in 2020-21 to 40 days in 2021-22.[xii]
[i] Office for National Statistics (2020) Leading causes of death, UK: 2001 to 2018 [Online] Available from: https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/ healthandsocialcare/causesofdeath/articles/leadingcausesofdeathuk/2001to2018#uk-leading-causes-of-death-by-age-group
[ii] Semlyen, J., King, M., Varney, J. et al. (2016) Sexual orientation and symptoms of common mental disorder or low wellbeing: combined meta-analysis of 12 UK population health surveys. BMC Psychiatry 16, 67 (2016). Available from: https://doi.org/10.1186/s12888-016- 0767-z
[iv] Mental Health Foundation (2016) Mental health statistics: refugees and asylum seekers [Online] Available from: https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/explore-mental-health/ statistics/refugees-asylum-seekers-statistics
[vi] Simonoff, E., Pickles, A., Charman, T., Chandler, S., Loucas, T., Baird, G. (2008) Psychiatric disorders in children with autism spectrum disorders: prevalence, comorbidity, and associated factors in a population-derived sample. J Am Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatry. 2008 Aug;47(8):921-9. doi: 10.1097/CHI.0b013e318179964f. PMID: 18645422.
[vii] The Children’s Society (n.d.) Young carer facts. Available from: https://www.childrenssociety.org.uk/what-we-do/ our-work/supporting-young-carers/facts-about-youngcarers
[viii] Gutman, L. M., Joshi, H., Parsonage, M. and Schoon, I. (2015) Children of the new century: mental health findings from the Millennium Cohort Study. London: Centre for Mental Health.
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