Sharp rise in mental health problems in young people

The proportion of young people reporting long-term mental health problems in England rose by six times between 1995 and 2014; those with the largest increase were aged 16 to 24. The fundings stem from a UK-wide research collaboration between University College London, Imperial College London, Exeter University and the Nuffield Trust, that gathered data from over 140,000 people aged 4-24.

Dr Dougal Hargreaves of Imperial College London and a Visiting Research Analyst at the Nuffield Trust said: “We know that there is already a growing crisis in the availability of Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services, with many more children and young people needing treatment than there are services to provide it. Our study suggests that this need is likely to continue to grow in future.

“Without more radical action to improve access to and funding for CAMHS, as well as a wider strategy to promote positive mental health and wellbeing, we may be letting down some of the most vulnerable in society.”

Key findings:

  • Between 1995 and 2014 the proportion of children and young people aged 4-24 in England reporting a long-standing mental health condition increased six fold, meaning that by 2014 almost one in twenty children and young people in England reported having a mental health condition.
  • In 2008, when comparable data from the other two countries was available, 3% of 4-24 year olds in England and 3.7% in Scotland said they had a long-standing mental health condition, with 2.9% of 4-24 year olds in Wales saying they had received treatment. By 2014 these figures had grown to 4.8% in England, 6.5% in Scotland and 4.1% in Wales.
  • The age group with the biggest increases were young people aged 16-24, with young people in England almost 10 times more likely to report a long-standing mental health condition in 2014 than in 1995 (5.9% vs. 0.6%).
  • Young boys aged 4-12 were consistently more likely to report a long-standing mental health condition than young girls. This was true across all countries. There was less of a consistent gender pattern in the 12-15 and 16-24 age groups.

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