RCPCH responds to latest NHS Digital mental health stats

NHS Digital has published a report: “Mental Health of Children and Young People in England, 2017” which has found one in eight (12.8%) of children and young people aged between five and 19, surveyed in England in 2017, had a mental disorder according to a major new report which provides England’s best source of data on trends in child mental health.

In response to the health statistics published by NHS Digital, Professor Russell Viner, President of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH) said:

“The fact that one in eight children between the ages of five and 19 have a diagnosed mental health problem is alarming but worse still, there is likely to be many more who are yet to be diagnosed.”

“We have long known of the mental health crisis that engulfs our country but the resources are simply not available to help these vulnerable young people.  As today’s data also showed, the number of 5-15 year olds with a mental health problem is increasing, but as our report published just last month warned, without major investment in this area, the number of England’s children and young people who are likely to battle a mental health issue in 2030 will rise to 60% – without action, children living with the conditions will face a miserable existence without timely access to support.”

“The Government has already provided additional mental health support for the education sector but we know this alone is not enough. Children need to be able to access services regardless of the time and place they present with a problem. And with around 6% of preschool children identified as having at least one mental disorder, early intervention will be key to improve life chances.”

“We see the Government’s Long-Term Plan as an excellent opportunity to address the children and young people’s mental health crisis and we strongly recommend it includes mental health training for all professionals, the adoption of ‘local offers’ and crucially, the integration of child health with primary care and other agencies into the mental health system.  Additionally, the collection and publication of statistics like today’s will be extremely important if we are to monitor the number of children in need of mental health support and act accordingly. We would like to see the Government provide a firm commitment to regularity of these surveys – they will be vital if every child in need of life-changing healthcare has access to it.”