Features


NHS statistics show one in 8 children have mental health problem

Official data produced for the first time since 2004 finds emotional disorders are becoming more prevalent

Published on 24th November 2018

One in eight 5 to 19-year- olds have at least one mental health problem when assessed in 2017, official statistics have revealed.

Official statistics produced by NHS Digital - part of the Government Statistical  Service -  for the first time since 2004 also found that at the time of being interviewed, one in twenty 5 to 19 year olds met the criteria for two or more individual mental disorders.

"Data from this survey series reveal  a slight increase over time in the prevalence  of mental disorder in 5 to 15 year olds (the age-group covered  on all  surveys in this series). Rising from 9.7% in 1999 and 10.1%  in 2004, to 11.2% in 2017," said the report.

The figures, which were last produced in 2004, categorised mental health disorders into four types:

1) Emotional disorders - including anxiety and depression.

One in 12 5- to-19 year olds had an emotional  disorder, with rates higher in girls (10.0%)  than boys (6.2%). Anxiety disorders (7.2%) were more common than  depressive disorders (2.1%).

2) Behavioural (or conduct) disorders -  a group  of disorders characterised by repetitive  and persistent patterns of disruptive  and violent  behaviour  in which the rights of others, and social norms or rules, are violated.

Around one in twenty (4.6%) 5 to 19 year olds had a behavioural disorder, with rates higher in boys (5.8%) than girls (3.4%).

3) Hyperactivity disorders - characterised by inattention, impulsivity, and hyperactivity.

About one in sixty (1.6%) 5 to 19 year olds had a hyperactivity disorder, with rates higher in boys (2.6%) than girls (0.6%).

4) Other less common disorders - including autism spectrum disorders (ASD), eating disorders, and a number of very low prevalence conditions.

Around one in fifty  (2.1%) 5 to 19 year olds were identified  with one or more of these other  types of disorder:  1.2% with ASD and 0.4% with an eating  disorder.

The figures showed that emotional  disorders have  become more common in 5 to 15 year olds, up from 4.3% in 1999  and 3.9% in 2004, to 5.8% by 2017.   The increase since 2004 in emotional  disorders is evident in both boys and girls.

All  other types of disorder - behavioural,  hyperactivity,  and other less common disorders  - have remained broadly  stable in prevalence among 5 to 15 year olds over time.

Young people aged 17 to 19 were three times more likely to have a disorder (16.9%) than preschool children aged 2 to 4 (5.5%), the report found.

Rates of emotional  disorder were highest in 17 to 19 year olds, while rates of behavioural  and hyperactivity  disorders were highest in children aged  5 to 16.

The report looked at preschool children (2 to 4 year olds) for the first time although it notes that these are Experimental Statistics, rather than Official
Statistics.

"These Experimental Statistics are England’s first estimates of disorder prevalence  in 2 to 4 year olds based on high quality  assessments with a national, random sample," said the report. "One in eighteen (5.5%) preschool children were identified  with at least one mental disorder around  the time of the interview."

The report also reveals that about  one in ten (9.5%) 5 to 10 year  olds had at least one disorder and around one in thirty  (3.4%) met the criteria for two or more mental disorders around the time of the interview.

However among 11 to 16 year olds, one in seven (14.4%)  were identified  with a mental disorder and one in sixteen (6.2%) met the criteria for two or more mental disorders at the time of the interview. Emotional  disorders were the most common type  at this age, present in 9.0% of 11 to 16 year  olds, followed  by behavioural  disorders (6.2%).

About  one in six (16.9%) 17 to 19 year  olds had a mental disorder one  in sixteen (6.4%) met the criteria for more than one mental disorder  at the time of the interview. Emotional  disorders were the most common type  in this age group,  present in 14.9%  of 17 to 19 year olds. 13.1%  were identified  with an anxiety  disorder and 4.8% with depression.

The report highlighted:

- Young women have been identified as a high risk group in relation to mental health. Rates of emotional  mental disorder and self-harm were higher  in this group than  other demographic groups. Nearly  one in four 17 to 19 girls had a mental disorder and 22.4%  had an emotional  disorder.

- Young  people  who identified  as lesbian,  gay, bisexual  or with an other sexual identity  were more likely  to have a mental disorder (34.9%)  than those who identified  as heterosexual  (13.2%).

- Mental  disorders tended  to be more common in children living  in lower income households.

- Rates of disorder in 5 to 19 year olds tended  to be higher  in White British children and lower in those who were Black/Black  British or Asian/Asian  British.

- Rates of mental disorder tended  to be highest in children living  with a parent  with poor mental health,  or in children living  with a parent  in receipt of disability  related  income.

- Over a third (38.2%)  of children  living  in families with the least healthy  functioning  had a mental disorder.

It also emerged that children with a disorder were more likely to have poor general health, a limiting long-term illness, a physical or developmental problem, or a special educational need.

Daily social media use was more common in young people with a disorder. Those 11 to 19 year olds with a mental disorder were more likely  to use social media every day  (87.3%) than those without a disorder (77.8%). Among  young people  who used social media daily, those with a disorder tended  to be on social media for longer.

Unsurprisingly, experiencing bullying - and bullying others - was more common in young people with a disorder. 11 to 19 year olds with a mental disorder were nearly twice as likely  to have  been bullied  in the past year (59.1%)  as those without  a disorder  (32.7%).

Risky health behaviours - including tobacco, e-cigarettes, alcohol and drug use - were more common in young people with a disorder. 11 to 16 year olds with a mental disorder were more likely  to have  self-harmed or attempted suicide at some point  (25.5%) than those without  a disorder (3.0%). Over a third of 5 to 19 year olds  with a disorder (35.6%)  were recognised as having special educational  needs.

Two-thirds (66.4%)  of 5 to 19 year olds with a disorder had contact with a professional service in the past year  because of worries about  mental health. 

Young people were most likely to have had contact with a teacher, (48.5%),  followed  by primary care professionals (33.4%),  mental health  specialists (25.2%),  and educational  support  services (22.6%).

Most  children with a disorder  who had used professional  services found them to be helpful.  This ranged  from 73.1% who found  educational  support services to be helpful,  to 60.5% who found social care services to be helpful. The service most likely  to be rated as unhelpful  by those who had contact with it was primary care. The report said that 17.0%  of 5 to 19 year  olds with a disorder  who had contact with a primary care professional  due to worries about  mental health  described this as either unhelpful  or very  unhelpful.

Among  children with a disorder,  around one in five reported  waiting over  six months for contact with a mental health  specialist (20.7%), a physical health specialist (21.6%), or for educational  support services (21.9%). Overall,  more than two thirds of 5 to 19 year  olds who accessed professional  services for a mental health reason reported  waiting less than ten weeks to see the specialist.

Chair of the Local Government Association’s Children and Young People Board, Cllr Anntoinette Bramble, said: “These startling figures demonstrate the urgent need to invest new substantial money into children’s services, which face a £3 billion funding gap by 2025 just to maintain current levels of service.

"Councils are pulling out all the stops to give children and young people the support they need, but worryingly, as a result of funding reductions, many councils are being forced to cut vital early intervention work which helps children avoid reaching crisis point.  

“We need a complete overhaul of children’s mental health services, and for the NHS to work with councils to develop a system that says yes, rather than no, to children when they ask for help.

“Councils and schools need to be given funding to offer independent mental health counselling so children have access to support as and when they need it.

“Government promised £1.7 billion for children’s mental health, and it should make certain all of this is received by children’s mental health services, and not diverted elsewhere. Where it has been spent on other services, government should make up the shortfall.

“In addition, we need to see a reversal of the cuts to public health funding, which also provide services that help young people get the best start in life," she concluded.

Mental Health of Children and Young People in England, 2017
Summary of key findings

https://files.digital.nhs.uk/F6/A5706C/MHCYP%202017%20Summary.pdf



Share this article:

Back to top
Subscribe to Locum Today
Post a comment

Receive the latest interviews, features and news stories in the Locum Today monthly email newsletter, designed and produced for locum social workers in the UK.

Type in your email address below and click Subscribe.

Leave a comment

Latest articles

10 things you should think about before becoming a locum social worker

10 things you should think about before becoming a locum social worker

Published on 07 January 2016

BASW professional officer Sue Kent and Tricia Gbinigie, business development officer for Independent and Locum Social Workers at BASW provide their Top 10 Tips on things to consider before becoming a locum or independent social worker.

10 Top Tips for successful report writing

10 Top Tips for successful report writing

Published on 10 December 2015

Sue Kent, professional officer at BASW, provides locum social workers with 10 Top Tips for successful report writing.