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Monthly referrals to children’s mental health services highest on record

A girl staring at the camera in front of a brick wall.

Latest NHS data, analysed by leading mental health charity YoungMinds, shows that the number of open referrals1 to Children and Young People’s Mental Health Services is the highest on record, with nearly half a million young people (493,4942) referred to services in October 2023.  

The NHS monthly data also showed that urgent referrals of under-18s, where a young person needs crisis support, continue to be alarmingly high. 3,355 urgent referrals took place in October 2023, a steep increase in comparison to previous years.  

The new data follows on from the latest prevalence survey3 which revealed the number of young people aged 8 to 16 with a probable mental health condition was the highest on record. The mental health charity is calling on the Government to prioritise young people’s mental health as a matter of urgency by providing early support in communities and equipping services with the resources to meet demand.  

Laura Bunt, Chief Executive at YoungMinds, responded to the figures:

The data released this week confirms that action is needed to turn the tide on the youth mental health emergency.

These figures are heart-breaking. Every month a set of record breaking figures is released and behind every number is a young person struggling and in need of support. More and more young people are reaching out for help, but the services that should be there to support them are often found wanting.

The latest prevalence data also laid bare some of the root causes of why so many young people are struggling - those who experience bullying or have a parent worried about money, are more likely to need help.

We need the Government to do more urgently – they must commit to reducing prevalence and tackle the reasons why so many young people are struggling with their mental health. Right now, they can make a difference by making sure every community has an early support hub so that young people can get help as soon as they need it. Beyond that, we need an ambitious plan that matches the scale of need focusing on prevention, investment and improving services.

YoungMinds are calling on all young people to demand the Government keep its promise to end the crisis in young people’s mental health.

Find out more about our campaign to #EndTheWait

For more information or to arrange an interview with a spokesperson, please contact the YoungMinds press office on 0203 861 2072 or email press@youngminds.org.uk  

[1] Open referrals are the number of children and young people undergoing treatment or waiting to start care.  

[2] NHS Data, referrals starting in reporting period

[3] The Mental Health of Children and Young People in England.

About YoungMinds

YoungMinds is the UK’s leading charity fighting for young people’s mental health.

Follow us on Twitter @YoungMindsUK and Facebook.

For free advice and support for parents, call our Parents Helpline on 0808 802 5544.

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