One in five children and young people aged eight to 25 in England had a probable mental health condition in 2023, according to a report published on 21 November.
The Mental Health of Children and Young People 2023 survey, commissioned by NHS England, was carried out earlier this year by the Office for National Statistics (ONS), the National Centre for Social Research (NatCen), the University of Cambridge and the University of Exeter. The survey found that 20.3 percent of eight to 16-year-olds had a probable mental disorder in 2023. Among 17 to 19-year-olds, the proportion was 23.3 percent, while for 20 to 25-year-olds it was 21.7 percent.
After a rise in rates of probable mental disorders between 2017 and 2020, prevalence continued at similar levels in all age groups between 2022 and 2023.
Participants were also questioned about eating disorders for the first time since the 2017 survey. In 2023, 12.5% of 17 to 19-year-olds had an eating disorder, an increase from 0.8% in 2017.
Ammanda Major, Head of Service Quality and Clinical Practice at Relate said:
"Regrettably, these new figures reflect what we are seeing in our children and young people's services. The dual impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and the cost-of-living crisis has intensified pressures on relationships, escalating tension within households. Frequent and unresolved conflict among parents can detrimentally impact children's mental health. Add to this fears about fitting in, awareness and worries about world politics, and comparing yourself to others on social media and it’s not a surprise that mental health issues such as eating disorders are on the rise."
“We support the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy’s call for the government to invest more in school and community counselling. As well as supporting young people who are struggling right now, we need to tackle the root causes. Research consistently highlights the impact of financial concerns on relationships. Effectively addressing the cost-of-living crisis is vital, as parental worries and clashes about money invariably affect children. There is a unique opportunity for Local Authorities to continue the important work of the Department of Work and Pensions Reducing Parental Conflict Programme through their network of Family Hubs, providing essential support for families navigating these challenges.”