20% of children and young people had a probable mental health disorder this year

A new survey has found one in five children and young people aged between eight to 25 had a probable mental health disorder in 2023.

Research from the Mental Health of Children and Young People in England 2023 report, which was published on Wednesday by NHS England, found that 20.3% of eight to 16-year-olds had a probable mental health disorder in 2023.

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In addition, among 17 to 19-year-olds, the proportion was 23.3%, while in 20 to 25-year-olds it was 21.7%.

After the number of mental health disorders in children and young people spiked between 2017 and 2020, prevalence continues at similar levels in all age groups between 2022 and 2023.

However, for the first time since 2017, participants were also asked about eating disorders. The results are harrowing.

In 2023, 12.5% of 17 to 19-year-olds had an eating disorder, an increase from 0.8% in 2017. As well as this, between 2017 and 2023, the research found rates rose both in young women (from 1.6% to 20.8%) and young men (from 0.0% to 5.1%) in this particular age group.

This year’s survey also found 5.9% of 20 to 25-year-olds had an eating disorder, while eating disorders were identified in 2.6% of 11 to 16-year-olds, compared with 0.5% in 2017 – with rates in 2023 four times higher in girls (4.3%) than boys (1.0%).

Claire Murdoch, NHS mental health director, said: ‘[The] report shows the continued unprecedented pressures faced by young people and reflects the increased demand for NHS children’s mental health services.

‘The NHS is providing support for more children and young people than ever before – we have already supported over 700,000 children and young people with their mental health this year and also seen a 47% increase in young people being treated for eating disorders compared to pre-pandemic.’

‘NHS staff are working harder than ever to meet the increased demand and we have fast-tracked mental health support for millions of pupils in schools and colleges, as well as significantly expanding the children’s mental health workforce. Our partners, especially in the education, voluntary and social care sectors, also have a critical role to play in supporting this effort.

‘It is vital that any child or young person struggling, or their family, reaches out for help so they can get the care they need.’

To help support the number of children and young people currently suffering, NHS England has rolled out 398 mental health support teams within schools and colleges to provide early support.

As well as this, a further 200 years are currently in training and due to become operational by spring 2025, which would ultimately cover five million (over 505) of the country’s pupils and learners.

Image: Nathan Dumlao

More on this topic:

£79m to expand children’s mental health support

Children’s mental health issues ‘increased greatly’ in last year


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