Children and young people are ‘bearing the brunt’ of the mental health crisis caused by the pandemic, according to a new study.
An analysis by the Royal College of Psychiatrists of NHS Digital data has revealed that while the crisis is affecting people of all ages, it is under-18s who are suffering most.
According to the data, 80,226 more children and young people were referred to CYP mental health services between April and December last year, up by 28% on 2019, to 372,438.
And 600,628 more treatment sessions were given to children and young people, up by a fifth on 2019 to 3.58m.
The analysis also found 18,269 children and young people needed urgent or emergency crisis care – including assessments to see if someone needs to be sectioned because they or others are at harm – an increase of 18% on 2019, to 18,269.
The Royal College of Psychiatrists has called for the additional £500m in the government’s mental health recovery plan to urgently reach the frontline so that people can get the support they need.
This funding is on top of the existing planned investment in mental health services set out in the NHS Long Term Plan.
The report also found the crisis is affecting adults as well as children.
Over one million more treatment sessions were given to adults between April and December last year (1,078,539), an increase of 8% on 2019. There were also 159,347 urgent crisis referrals made for adults, an all-time high, and an increase of 2% on 2019.
‘Our children and young people are bearing the brunt of the mental health crisis caused by the pandemic and are at risk of lifelong mental illness,’ said Dr Bernadka Dubicka, chair of the child and adolescent faculty at the Royal College of Psychiatrists.
‘As a frontline psychiatrist I’ve seen the devastating effect that school closures, disrupted friendships and the uncertainty caused by the pandemic have had on the mental health of our children and young people.
‘Services were already struggling to cope with the number of children needing help before the pandemic hit, and they risk being overrun unless government ensures the promised money reaches the frontline quickly.’
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