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Mental health statistics

Young people’s mental health and wellbeing has never been so important. These statistics show just how big the problem is for young people in the UK.

Mental health is a big issue for young people

  • One in six children aged five to 16 were identified as having a probable mental health problem in July 2020, a huge increase from one in nine in 2017. That’s five children in every classroom (i).
  • The number of A&E attendances by young people aged 18 or under with a recorded diagnosis of a psychiatric condition more than tripled between 2010 and 2018-19 (ii).
  • 80% of young people with mental health needs agreed that the coronavirus pandemic had made their mental health worse (iii).
  • In 2018-19, 24% of 17-year-olds reported having self-harmed in the previous year, and seven per cent reported having self-harmed with suicidal intent at some point in their lives. 16% reported high levels of psychological distress (iv).
  • Suicide was the leading cause of death for males and females aged between five to 34 in 2019 (v).
  • Nearly half of 17-19 year-olds with a diagnosable mental health disorder has self-harmed or attempted suicide at some point, rising to 52.7% for young women (vi).

1 in 6
children aged five to 16 were identified as having a probable mental health problem in July 2020.

It has a big impact in adulthood

  • One-third of mental health problems in adulthood are directly connected to an adverse childhood experience (ACE) (vii).
  • Adults who experienced four or more adversities in their childhood are four times more likely to have low levels of mental wellbeing and life satisfaction (viii).

1 in 3
mental health problems in adulthood are directly connected to an adverse childhood experience (ACE).

Young people need more support

  • Just over one in three children and young people with a diagnosable mental health condition get access to NHS care and treatment (ix).
  • In a YoungMinds survey, three-quarters (76%) of parents said that their child's mental health had deteriorated while waiting for support from Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) (x).
  • In a YoungMinds commissioned survey by Censuswide, two-thirds (67%) of young people said they would prefer to be able to access mental health support without going to see their GP but nearly half (47%) said they didn't know how else to access this help (xi).

Less than 1 in 3
children and young people with a diagnosable mental health condition get access to NHS care and treatment.

References

(i) NHS Digital (2020): 'Mental Health of Children and Young People in England', prevalence survey. Available at: https://digital.nhs.uk/data-and-information/publications/statistical/mental-health-of-children-and-young-people-in-england/2020-wave-1-follow-up

(ii) NHS Digital / The Independent (January 2020) ‘Number of children admitted to A&E with mental health problems jumps 330 per cent over past decade’. Available at: https://www.independent.co.uk/news/health/children-mental-health-hospital-suicide-nhs-ae-a9255626.html

(iii) YoungMinds (summer 2020) Coronavirus: Impact on young people with mental health needs (survey two). Available at: https://www.youngminds.org.uk/media/355gyqcd/coronavirus-report-summer-2020-final.pdf

(iv) NCB and UCL research (November 2020), ‘One in six report severe mental health difficulties by age 17’. Available at: https://www.ncb.org.uk/about-us/media-centre/news-opinion/one-six-report-severe-mental-health-difficulties-age-17

(v) ONS: Deaths registered in England and Wales (2019) section six ‘Leading causes of death’. Available at: https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/birthsdeathsandmarriages/deaths/bulletins/deathsregistrationsummarytables/2019#leading-causes-of-death

(vi) NHS Digital (2018) ‘Mental Health of Children and Young People in England, 2017’. Available at: https://digital.nhs.uk/data-and-information/publications/statistical/mental-health-of-children-and-young-people-in-england/2017/2017. Based on 46.8% of 17 to 19-year-olds that were identified as having a diagnosable mental health condition reporting that they had harmed themselves or tried to kill themselves at some point

(vii) Kessler, R. (2010) ‘Childhood adversities and adult psychopathology in the WHO World Mental Health Surveys’ British Journal of Psychiatry 197(5): 378–385.

(viii) Mehta, D. et al. (2013) ‘Childhood maltreatment is associated with distinct genomic and epigenetic profiles in posttraumatic stress disorder’ Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 110(20): 8302–8307. Available at: http://www.pnas.org/content/110/20/8302.full.pdf

(ix) NHS Five Year Forward View for Mental Health dashboard. Available at: https://www.england.nhs.uk/publication/nhs-mental-health-dashboard/

(x) YoungMinds (2018) ‘A new era for young people’s mental health’. Available at https://www.youngminds.org.uk/media/5dilibjw/a-new-era-for-young-peoples-mental-health.pdf

(xi) YoungMinds (2020), First port of call: the role of GPs in early support for young people’s mental health. Available at: https://www.youngminds.org.uk/media/2csbkvlz/final-the-role-of-gps-in-early-support-for-young-peoples-mental-health.pdf