Posted: 26 November 2019

New mental health statistics raise concern over support for young people

Recent mental health statistics allow us to see how many children and young people across the country are struggling with mental ill health.

This is the first review since 2004 and the findings highlight the need for greater mental health support in England. This mental health week, we're raising the awareness of the young people that are suffering in silence or don't have access to the support they need.

11.2% of children aged 5 - 15 have mental ill health

In 2004, 10.1% of 5 - 15 year olds had mental ill health. That figure has now increased to 11.2%, which equates to approximately 812,300* children aged 5 - 15 in England. 

Another figure showed that 1 in 8 children aged 5 to 19 had a mental health condition in 2017. That's four children in a class of 32.

Each of these children has their own story, but a report by the Children's Commissioner shows that many of these children fail to receive the support and treatment they need.

Last year 338,000 children were referred to community child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS). One third of them received treatment, one third spent last New Year's Eve on the waiting list and the final third were turned away because their problems weren't serious enough to meet the NHS' thresholds.

Overall, the NHS is only treating a very small percentage of the population of young people with mental health problems. A large number of children rely on voluntary services, school counsellors or private care. Many will not even have told anyone that they're struggling. 

15 times more money is spent on adults than on children

The Children's Commissioner has found that we spend 15 times more money on adults than on children. Further evidence from Young Minds suggests that not all of this even reaches the frontline as local NHS leaders choose to prioritise other struggling services. 

Right now the leaders of our NHS are making a 10 year plan. They are working out how to spend increased funding of £20.5 billion per year by the end of the next five years. It's a significant investment. But the NHS has many competing priorities and children's mental health is only one of them.

Figures from the NHS report will be vital in making the case for increased investment. Already there has been record levels of investment in children's mental health but more is still needed.

Children's mental health needs to be taken seriously

As NHS leaders finalise their plans they must put children's mental health front and centre. If they don't, these figures might get larger over the next ten years, and hundreds of thousands more children will have their own story to tell about just how hard it is to get mental health support in England.

We want to see counselling in secondary schools. We want open access hubs in every community where children can just walk in to talk to a professional about their mental health. We want children's mental health to be taken seriously. 

*This is figure is based on CCG mid-year population estimates for 2017 based on the population of 5-15 year olds in England. 



By Richard Crellin - Policy team

Read more

Five ways to look after your emotional well-being

Posted: 10 July 2020


Read more

Inquiry: The impact of cyberbullying on social media on children and young people’s mental health

Posted: 1 March 2017


Read more

Stress Awareness Day and the effects of stress on young people

Posted: 6 November 2019