The state of youth mental health

A Relate report in 2011 stated that by the time an average class of 30 young people reach their 16th birthdays:

  • 10 of them will have witnessed their parents separate
  • 3 will have suffered from mental health problems
  • 8 will have experienced severe physical violence, sexual abuse or neglect
  • 3 will be living in a step-family
  • 1 will have experienced the death of a parent
  • 7 will report having been bullied.

Mental health problems in young people are common. Fact.

  • The last national survey ONS, 2004 [PDF] determined that one in ten children and young people (CYP) have a diagnosable mental disorder.
  • 50% of all diagnosable mental health problems start around 14-15 years old.
  • An accurate, current picture of youth mental health is not available, due to lack of up-to-date data, as identified by the Chief Medical Officer and the RCPsych.
  • Work by key national charities has shown that self-harm and bullying are rising.
  • The rise in youth mental health problems is likely to be influenced by the rising pressures on families, including economic pressures.
  • 1 in 3 CYP in the UK live in poverty and poor mental health is over represented in low income families.
  • CYP with poor mental health have poorer physical health, are more likely to smoke and make riskier health choices.
  • Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) have experienced significant cuts in funding over the past 3 years
  • There is marked geographical variation in service provision, with access to specialist services often proving difficult.
  • The roll out of CYP Improved Access to Psychological Therapies (CYP IAPT) is a welcome development but has not resulted in increased posts.

In response, the RCGP nominated Youth Mental Health as a clinical priority in January 2013. This priority will run for 3 years.

Dr Jane H Roberts is the Youth Mental Health Clinical Champion and can be contacted at Jane.Roberts@rcgp.org.uk.

Dr Frances Baawuah is the Youth Mental Health Clinical Support Fellow and can be contacted on fbaawuah@nhs.net.

Please address initial queries regarding the Youth Mental Health Clinical Priority to Dr Baawuah. General queries can be sent to circ@rcgp.org.uk.

You can find additional resources on the child and adolescent health and mental health resource pages.

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