UK children mental health crisis rises to drastic 53% in 4 years

Majority of under-18s continue to see their mental health deteriorate waiting for NHS treatment in UK

The number of youngsters in England experiencing a mental health crisis has increased by 53% in just four years as per the official data indication.

The number of under-18s referred to mental health services for emergency care increased to 32,521 in 2022–2023 from 21,242 in 2019–2020, according to the Sun.

Many of these under-18s have seen their mental health deteriorate while waiting for treatment on NHS waiting lists.

Dr Elaine Lockhart, chair of the college’s child and adolescent faculty, said: “It’s unacceptable that so many children and young people are reaching crisis point before they are able to access care.”

“Severe mental illness is not just an adult problem. The need for specialist mental health services for children and young people is growing all the time,” she said.

“The evidence shows us that children who receive support quickly are less likely to develop long-term conditions, that negatively affect their education, social development and health in later life,” she added.

Around 50% of mental health disorders start before the age of 14 and 75% before the age of 24.

Data reveals that under-18s who are waiting for follow-up following a general practitioner referral for mental health issues have already had wait times ranging from, at worst, over two years, to an average of five months.

The government’s announcement last year of an additional £5 million to enhance access to already-existing early support hubs was welcomed, according to the Royal College of Psychiatrists.

However, it stated that it projects that a further £125 to £205 million will be necessary to set up centres in each local authority, with annual operating expenses of at least £114 million.

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