WHAT'S THE PROBLEM?

Many aspects of today’s society can be bad news for the mental health of children and young people in the UK. As they grow and develop, children have to navigate a complex and ever changing world, facing challenges and pressures in numerous aspects of their lives.

  • Family breakdown is widespread.
  • There is so much pressure to have access to money, the perfect body and lifestyle.
  • Materialist culture heavily influences young people
  • 24 hour social networking and what young people can access from a young age can have a negative impact on their mental health and wellbeing.
  • Body image is a source of much distress for many young people.
  • Bullying on and offline is rife.
  • Increasing sexual pressures and early sexualisation throw young people into an adult world they don’t understand
  • Violence is rife in many communities and fear of crime a constant source of distress for thousands of young people.
  • Schools are getting more and more like exam factories; university entry has become more competitive and expensive.
  • 13% of 16-24 year olds are not in employment, education or training (NEET).[1]

WHAT IS MENTAL HEALTH?

Mental Health affects all aspects of a child’s development including their cognitive abilities, their social skills as well their emotional wellbeing. Building emotional resilience is key and we believe there are core attributes seen in mentally healthy children and young people:

  • The capacity to enter into and sustain mutually satisfying personal relationships
  • A continuing progression of psychological development
  • An ability to play and to learn appropriately for their age and intellectual level
  • A developing moral sense of right and wrong
  • The capacity to cope with a degree of psychological distress
  • A clear sense of identity and self worth

With good mental health, children and young people do better in every way. They enjoy their childhoods, are able to deal with stress and difficult times, are able to learn better, do better at school, navigate the online world they grew up in so they benefit from it and enjoy friendships and new experiences.

Childhood and teenage years are when mental health is developed and patterns are set for the future. So a child with good mental health is much more likely to have good mental health as an adult, and to be able to take on adult responsibilities and fulfil their potential.

850,000 children have mental health problems

Three children in every classroom have a diagnosable mental health disorder.

  • Roughly 725,000 people in the UK suffer from Eating Disorders, 86% of these will have shown symptoms before the age of 19.[1]
  • One in 10 deliberately harm themselves regularly[2] (and 15,000 of them are hospitalised each year because of this[3])
  • Nearly 80,000 children and young people suffer from severe depression[4]
  • Half of all lifetime cases of mental illness begin by age 14.[5]
  • 45% of children in care have a mental health disorder - these are some of the most vulnerable people in our society[6]
  • Nearly 300,000 young people in Britain have an anxiety disorder.[7]
  • 95% of imprisoned young offenders have a mental health disorder. Many of them are struggling with more than one disorder.[8]

Many thousands of children and young people are isolated, unhappy, have eating disorders and self-harm; some tragically take their own lives. Many are likely to become victims of crime, grow up in dysfunctional families, or left to cope with illness, drugs and/or alcohol issues – not necessarily their own.

There is still a huge stigma around mental health which means children and young people are not getting the support they need. Mental health problems can lead to young people being disruptive, difficult, withdrawn and disturbed and it’s vital they are supported and not just ignored or told off.  

TACKLING THE PROBLEM

Investing in services and support for young people at an early stage not only reduces misery and loneliness, but saves millions in future costs to the NHS, education, criminal justice and social care costs.

YoungMinds is the UK’s leading charity committed to improving the emotional wellbeing and mental health of children and young people and empowering their parents and carers. We provide support for parents, training for professionals and a range of opportunities for young people to improve services and campaign for change. Young people are at the heart of everything we do.

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  • [1] House of Commons Briefing Paper ‘NEET : Young People Not in Education, Employment or Training”, James Mirza-Davies (http://researchbriefings.files.parliament.uk/documents/SN06705/SN06705.pdf)
  • [1] The Costs of Eating Disorders, B-EAT, 2014(http://www.b-eat.co.uk/assets/000/000/302/The_costs_of_eating_disorders_Final_original.pdf?1424694814)
  • [2] Managing self-harm in young people, Royal College of Psychiatrists (CR192) (http://bit.ly/10REJNK)
  • [3] Parliamentary Question (18/11/14) http://bit.ly/1gCRx2e
  • [4] Mental Health of Children and Young People in the UK, Office of National Statistics, 2004 (http://www.hscic.gov.uk/catalogue/PUB06116/ment-heal-chil-youn-peop-gb-2004-rep2.pdf)
  • [5] National Comorbidity Survey Replication, NIMH, 2005 (http://1.usa.gov/1hzshe2)
  • [6]  Psychiatric disorder among British children looked after by local authorities: comparison with children living in private households, Ford et al.. (2007)British Journal of Psychiatry190, 319– 325
  • [7] RCPSych website http://bit.ly/10PIOlu
  • [8] Psychiatric Morbidity of Young Offenders, Lader et al (1997), Office of National Statistice (http://www.ons.gov.uk/ons/rel/psychiatric-morbidity/psychiatric-morbidity-among-young-offenders/psychiatric-morbidity-among-young-offenders/psychiatric-morbidity---among-young-offenders.pdf)