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22 Nov 2018

NHS figures show worrying increase in mental illness in children

One in eight (12.8%) children and young people aged between five and 19 has a mental disorder, the first major study on child mental ill-health in England in 13 years has found.

Since 2004, the last time this type of representative survey was carried out, the prevalence of mental disorders among children aged five to 15 has increased from 10.1% to 11.2%.

It’s estimated that one in six (16.9%) 17 to 19-year-olds now have a mental disorder, with one in 16 (6.4%) experiencing more than one mental disorder at a time.

Figures released today from NHS Digital show females aged 17 to 19 were found to be more than twice as likely as males of the same age to have a mental disorder. A quarter (25.5%) of 11 to 16-year-olds with a mental disorder had also self-harmed or attempted suicide at some point.

Marjorie Wallace, Chief Executive of SANE, responds to the report’s findings:

“SANE has been aware of the worrying increase in mental illness amongst young women, and the rise in self-harm and suicide attempts which is reaching epidemic levels.

“Social media is one likely factor, but our major concern is the lack of help children receive when their illness becomes acute, the tens of thousands turned away from specialist services after referral by their GP, or those left to wait for months for counselling.

“Despite the escalating need, services in many areas remain threadbare. This makes no sense as three-quarters of mental illness starts precisely in this age group, and left untreated may lead to lifelong mental health problems.”

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