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Mental Health crisis grips England: 1 in 5 children grappling with probable mental disorders

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An NHS survey exposes alarming rise in mental disorders among children and teens

A new report, published by the Office of National Statistics (ONS), has revealed worrying statistics about the mental health of children and young people in England.

The report is based on NHS survey on Mental Health of Children and Young People in England 2023, which showed that one in five children and young individuals aged eight to 25 were grappling with probable mental disorders.

The report highlighted that 20.3 per cent of eight to 16-year-olds showed signs of mental distress in 2023. Among 17 to 19-year-olds, the proportion rose to 23.3 per cent, while in 20 to 25-year-olds, it stood at 21.7 per cent.

The rates of probable mental disorders were similar for boys and girls, while for 17- to 25-year-olds, rates were twice as high for young women than young men.

Additionally, the report shed light on the prevalence of eating disorders. Shockingly, 12.5 per cent of 17 to 19-year-olds reported having an eating disorder in 2023, marking a significant increase from 0.8 per cent in 2017. Rates of eating disorders have soared among both young women and men in this age group over the years.

The findings also underscored children who were unlikely to have mental health disorders were more likely to have exercised, spent time in green spaces, or participated in activities in the week before the survey.

Dr Lade Smith CBE, president of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, urged the government and the NHS to prioritise children in their policy-making and funding decisions.

In response, a Department of Health and Social Care spokesman told The Telegraph, “Spending on mental health has increased by £4.7bn in cash terms since 2018/19 and we are increasing the coverage of mental health support teams in schools to reach at least 50pc of pupils in England by March 2025.”

He added that 24 existing early support hubs across the country will receive additional funding to help provide support to those that need it, as announced in February.

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