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One in six children suffers from a mental health disorder, as effects of the pandemic bite

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Depressed youngsters The study found that young women were most likely to have experienced a deterioration in their mental health

One in six children in the UK now have a probable mental disorder, according to a new survey for NHS Digital. Mental Health of Children and Young People in England 2021 shows the figure remains similar to 2020, but represents a significant increase from 2017 when it was one in nine.

This report looks at the mental health of children and young people in England in 2021 and how this has changed since 2017 and 20205. The findings draw on a sample of 3,667 children and young people aged between six and 23 years old, who were surveyed in 2017 and 2021. On average around half of them recorded a deterioration in their mental health, with girls and young women most affected.

The survey also identified that over half of 17-19 year olds have developed eating disorders, and linked the decline in mental health to various pandemic-related factors, included increased use of social media, social isolation and economic uncertainty.

Leila Reyburn, Policy and Campaigns Manager at the mental health charity, called the findings ‘sad but unsurprising’.

‘We know from speaking to young people that they have had to bear the brunt of this difficult time - with disruption to their education, finances and employment and a bleak outlook for their futures,’ she said.

‘With a record number of under 18s seeking mental health support through the NHS, Mind is calling on the UK Government to invest in early intervention hubs in communities and give the NHS sufficient funding to meet demand. Without this, these statistics are unlikely to change.’

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