17% of young people experienced mental health problems in 2017, NHS report reveals

Young person

Young person with mental health problems │ Cabriolet


Around 16.9% of young people of 17 to 19 years old experienced mental health problems in England, according to the Mental Heath of Children and Young People in 2017 of the NHS. This number is three times higher than the mental health disorders reported with children of 2 to 4 years old (5.5%). This data is part of the first review in mental health support for young people and children in England since 2004.

Data from this survey warns that there is a slight increase over time in mental health disorders. Thus, children between 5 and 15 years old with these issues grew from 9.7% in 1999 to 11.2% in 2017. Emotional problems had been identified as the main disorder for this age-group with a growth from 4.3% in 1999 to 5.8% in 2017.

The report also reveals that mental health issues experienced during the childhood also continue during the adulthood. One in eight young people (12.8%) in 5 to 19 years old had at least one mental health disorder last year. That’s four children in a class of 32. Other disorders such as behavioural and hyperactivity have remained similar in this age-group since 1999.

Only a third of children received treatment

Findings have also showed that around 338,000 children were referred to community Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) in 2017. Only one third of them received treatment, one third was in the waiting list last New Year’s Eve, and the last third was turned away because their problems weren’t serious enough for the NHS thresholds.

In general terms, a small percentage of young people with mental health disorders received help. Most of these children relied on voluntary services, school counsellors or private care while many others didn’t tell anyone about their problems.

Spending on adults 15 times higher than on children

There are also significant differences between the money spent on supporting adults than on children. According to The Children’s Commissioner, England spent 15 times more money on adults than on children.

NHS’ leaders are currently working on a 10-year plan. This plan will define how to spend increased funding of £20.5 billion per year by the end of the next five years. Charities as the Children’s Society warn that the plan won’t fully solved this issue as it also includes other priorities beyond children’s mental health. According to the NHS, there has been record levels of investment in children’s mental health, however, more is still needed.

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