Record Number of Youth Referrals to Mental Health Services

In 2017, an all-time high of 1.4 million children and teenagers received NHS assistance for mental health concerns amid worries that adolescents are having difficulties with topics including finances and their schooling.

According to NHS data, there has been a significant surge in the number of school-age children referred to Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) during the past three years, rising by 76% since 2019.

Approximately 812,000 adolescents in England sought treatment for anxiety, depression, eating disorders, and other psychological issues from CAMHS in 2019.

However, in 2022, approximately 1,425,194, the highest amount ever, were referred. Given the ongoing effects of the pandemic on the wellness of young people, that was the second year in a row that referrals exceeded a million.

The information raised worries that young people's struggles with mental health may be "the new normal." The statistics came from a YoungMinds examination of data from NHS Digital.

NHS Digital reported that "in children aged 7 to 16 years, rates rose from 1 in 9 (12.1%) in 2017 to 1 in 6 (16.7%) in 2020. Rates of probable mental disorder then remained stable between 2020, 2021 and 2022."

Additional information gathered by the charity reveals that difficulties with anxiety, self-harm, aggressiveness, problems at school, including missing school and behavior management are the primary causes for parents to call their hotline.

The charity says the effects of the pandemic, the housing crisis, and the academic catch-up that young people are currently dealing with all adversely affect their mental health. Concerns about finances account for most mental health issues in young people, coming at 58%, yet, according to 27% of them, the pandemic still has an effect.

The bleak picture painted by these new numbers illustrates how swiftly the mental health issue among young people is growing. Tom Madders from YoungMinds claims that "This explosion in referral numbers has resulted in wait times being as long as two years in some parts of the country."

With a new strategy to increase help for young people, the youth mental health charity is advising the government to take immediate action to meet this rise in demand. The heightening number is arriving at a time when the government has discarded its ten-year mental health strategy in lieu of physical health issues like cancer and diabetes.

Department of Health spokesperson concludes: "We're continuing to invest in mental health services for children and young people with an additional £2.3bn a year on overall mental health services by 2024."

With this investment, 345,000 more children and teenagers will access NHS-funded mental health services, including the crucial mental health support teams we establish in schools and colleges nationwide.

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