NHS Digital have published the first in a series of follow up reports to the Mental Health and Young People Survey (MHCYP) 2017, exploring the mental health of children and young people in July 2020, during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and changes since 2017.
The study found rates of probable mental disorders have increased since 2017. In 2020, one in six (16.0%) children aged 5 to 16 years were identified as having a probable mental disorder, increasing from one in nine (10.8%) in 2017. The increase was evident in both boys and girls.
Dr Bernadka Dubicka, Chair of the Child and Adolescent Faculty at the Royal College of Psychiatrists, said: “It’s deeply distressing to see such a sharp increase in the number of young people living with a mental illness, more so as lockdown and poverty has made many of their lives significantly worse.
“Services were already struggling to cope with demand before Covid-19, but access has been even worse since lockdown started. We are now seeing more patients needing emergency or urgent treatment because they’ve become so ill while waiting to be seen.
“Mental health services are open for business, but plans to roll out mental health support teams in schools must be accelerated if we are to tackle the mental health consequences of Covid-19. We also need to see greater availability of services for children and young people in crisis.”