Big rise in teenagers in UK struggling with mental health

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The figure for 17 to 19-year-olds has risen sharply from one in six last year and 10 percent five years ago. A report by NHS Digital said mental distress among children in England increased during the pandemic and has since remained above pre-Covid levels.

The report was based on a survey of 2,866 people aged between seven and 24, and their parents.

It found mental health disorder rates were more stable in younger age groups.

Eighteen percent of seven to 16s had a probable mental disorder – up from 12 percent in 2017, but similar to last year’s 17.8 percent figure.

In those aged seven to 10, the prevalence was almost twice as high among boys (20 percent) as girls (11 percent).

Among late teens. 31 percent of girls and women aged 17-24 were affected, and 13 percent of boys and men.

Children experiencing financial strain at home, being bullied on social media or having a tough time at school, were more likely to be affected. Problems sleeping, loneliness and self-harm were more common in those thought to have disorders.

More than 3.2 million people were in contact with mental health, learning disabilities and autism services, including 992,647 under-18s. The overall total rose by almost a fifth in three years, from 2.7 million in 2018/19.

Olly Parker, of the charity YoungMinds, said: “This demonstrates the unprecedented crisis happening in young people’s mental health.

“Thousands are seeking support but too many are being told to wait, struggling to cope and hitting crisis point before they get help.”

One of the report’s authors, Dr Tamsin Newlove Delgado, of Exeter University, said: “We need to understand more about which young people are struggling the most and why.

“This will not be a ‘quick fix’ but as a society, we need to prioritise supporting young people to get the best start to their lives.”

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