One in six children has a ‘probable mental disorder’
One in six children in England have a “probable mental disorder”, according to research.
NHS Digital surveyed 3,570 people aged 5-22 in 2017 and July 2020.
The results suggest that the number of children and young people showing signs of mental illness has fallen from one in nine to one in six in just three years.
Troubles were found to be more common among those who had seen adults arguing in their homes.
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Unsurprisingly, the coronavirus outbreak has affected the mental health of many children. The survey found that probable mental disorders are more than twice as common among young people living in households that have fallen behind on payments due to the pandemic.
“Today’s findings present a disturbing picture of the effect young people’s everyday circumstances, such as family finances, have on their mental health,” said Martina Kane of charity The Health Foundation.
“The survey found that children with mental health issues were more than twice as likely to live in a household that had fallen behind on their payments.
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“Young people with existing mental health issues also reported that the lockdown made their lives worse. This would have coincided with the closure or reduction of key services, including mental health and youth services.
“There must be immediate and targeted action to support the most vulnerable, including children and young people with an existing mental health problem.
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Among boys aged 5 to 16, the rate of probable mental disorders increased from 11.4% in 2017 to 16.7% in July 2020. Among girls, the prevalence of disorders increased from 10.3% to 15.2%.
The likelihood of developing a probable mental disorder was found to become more common with age, with a “notable gender difference for the older age group”.
Among participants aged 17 to 22, more than a quarter (27.2%) of women showed signs of a probable mental disorder, compared to 13.3% of men.
Family dynamics have been found to influence risk.
The report found that among girls aged 11 to 16, nearly two-thirds (63.8%) with a probable mental disorder had seen or heard an argument between adults in their household.
This is compared to the 46.8% of girls who witnessed a falling out but were unlikely to have a mental disorder.
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Mental health issues were reported following the coronavirus outbreak early in the pandemic.
When interviewing parents of participants, more than a third (36.7%) of those with children aged 5 to 16 thought their little one was worried that a friend or relative might catch the infection.
This was reported by half (50.2%) of parents whose child had a probable mental disorder, compared to one-third (33.2%) of those whose youngsters were unlikely to have a mental disorder.
Probable mental disorders were also more common among young people who feared catching the coronavirus, or missing school or work because of the pandemic.
Overall, more than a third of people aged 11-22 said the lockdown had made their lives a little worse, while 5.9% of 11-16 year olds and 6.7% of 17-22 years said the restriction made their lives much worse.
Sleep has long been linked to mental health. Although a lack of sleep can affect a person’s mood, insomnia or excessive sleep can also be a symptom of depression.
Nearly three in five participants (58.9%) with a probable mental disorder reported having sleep problems, compared to just under one in five (19%) of those who probably did not have a sleep problem. health.
This was more common among female participants, especially those aged 17 to 22.
The survey also found that children and young people with a probable mental disorder were around eight times more likely to have reported feeling lonely all or most of the time.
Overall, children who were unlikely to have a mental disorder received more regular support from their school or college during the pandemic.
The survey found that just over one in five people (21.7%) with a probable mental disorder tried to seek help but did not receive it.
Parents concerned about their child can contact Child and Youth Mental Health Services (CYPMHS).
Local areas have different support services available.
Most CYPMHS have their own website, which has access information, referrals, and more, including phone numbers.
Parents can also visit their local Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) website and search for child and youth mental health.
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