Nearly 13% of 5-19 year olds had at least one mental disorder when assessed in 2017, figures released by NHS Digital show.
Mental disorders were grouped into four broad categories – emotional, behavioural, hyperactivity and other less common disorders. In the 5 to 15 age group, this has risen from 9.7% in 1999 and 10.1% in 2004 to 11.2% in 2017. Additionally, emotional disorders have become more common in 5-15-year-olds, rising from 3.9% in 2004 to 5.8% in 2017.
‘These figures paint a predictably harrowing picture of young people’s mental health. Particularly concerning is the rise in emotional disorders such as anxiety and depression, affecting almost 6% of all 5-15 year-olds,’ said Dr Jon Goldin, vice chair of the child and adolescent faculty at the Royal College of Psychiatrists.
'What makes matters worse is that we know that the services designed to treat these issues are still underfunded and under resourced. The number of child and adolescent psychiatrists has dropped by 6.9% since 2014, and 60% of training places for child and adolescent psychiatry are currently unfilled.'
Women aged 17-19 were more than twice as likely as males of the same age to have a mental disorder. Young women in this age group were also identified as having higher rates of emotional disorder and self-harm than other demographic groups. In addition to this, 5.6% of young women were identified as having body dysmorphic disorder, an anxiety disorder characterised by the obsessive idea that some aspect of their body or appearance is severely flawed and warrants exceptional measures to hide or fix.
'We know that intervening early can help prevent mental health problems in children from escalating and developing into adulthood, and the green paper on child and adolescent mental health has rightly set in place measures to have Designated Senior Leads and Mental Health Support Teams in schools,’ added Dr Goldin.
‘But the rollout of these initiatives is far too slow. At the rate it’s going, in some parts of the country children currently aged 8 years old won’t see any interventions in place until they’re 18 and have left school.’