NHS Report Finds More Young People Are Experiencing Mental Illness - Miricyl

NHS Report Finds More Children and Young People Are Experiencing Mental Illness

Young peoples’ mental health hit the headlines recently as a new NHS Digital report found an increase in young people and children experiencing mental illness.

The report, which is the first of its kind since 2004, surveyed more than 9000 young people in different parts of England and found that:

  • One in nine (11.2%) 5-15 years olds have a mental disorder (emotional, behavioural, or hyperactive conditions), an increase from one in ten (10.1%) in 2004.
  • One in eight (12.8%) young people age 5-19 have a mental disorder.
  • Emotional disorders have become more common in 5-15 year olds, from 3.9% in 2004 to 5.8% in 2017.
  • 5-10 year old boys were twice as likely as girls to have behavioural issues.
  • By age 17 one in four young women suffers from mental illness.
  • One in eighteen (5.5%) preschool children had at least one mental disorder when they were surveyed.

What does this mean for young people?

Children and young people need good mental health in order to develop the skills to cope with whatever life throws at them.
Not only do mental health problems inhibit learning but many of the problems adults experience have already developed by age 18. Therefore, the key to preventing future problems is to act early.
One positive to take from these results is that a child’s ‘bad behaviour’ may now be recognised as a sign of distress or a developing mental health problem, allowing for early intervention.

Where’s the help?

While the number of referrals to mental health services has increased, demand for help is not being met. Only around a quarter of young people are able to access mental health services leaving them and their families desperate for support. A recent Panorama documentary claimed that some overstretched health services are refusing to treat children often until they are at crisis point or even suicidal.

What next?

Without significant investment in young people’s mental health services, there is a real chance that these figures will only increase in the future. To tackle mental health at every age we must start as early as possible.

That’s why it is more important than ever to show your support for research into young peoples’ mental health.


Be part of the change. Join our campaign to increase government funding for Mental Illness Research in Children and Young Lives.



One in eight of five to 19 year olds had a mental disorder in 2017. NHS Digital. 23 September 2018: https://digital.nhs.uk/news-and-events/latest-news/one-in-eight-of-five-to-19-year-olds-had-a-mental-disorder-in-2017-major-new-survey-finds

“CAHMS Not fit for purpose”. BBC News. 2018. 24 September 2018: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-45607313