Mental Health Disorders in Children and Young People

Mental Health

Mental health is a topic that has only very recently come into the forefront after an incredibly long period of silence. It is often something that people prefer not to address, or feel is not relevant to them and can in turn be a misunderstood subject. The negative stigma and discrimination around mental health can be driving force in stopping people with mental health disorders seek help. Therefore, it is important that we all contribute to raising awareness of the reality of mental health and its importance in people of all ages and backgrounds.

NHS Survey

My name is Sabrina and I am a Research Scientist at Future Genetics. From January 1999 to December 2017, the NHS carried out major surveys of the mental health of children and young people in England and published a report of the findings on the 22nd of November of this year. A number of different types of disorders were assessed for with ‘rigorous, detailed and consistent methods’. Amongst these disorders were; emotional disorders, behavioural disorders, hyperactivity disorders and less common disorders.

Results

Overall, the results showed that one in eight (12.8%) of 5 to 19 year olds have at least one mental health disorder, primarily being emotional disorders, as you can see by this bar chart (Figure 1). This also represents the rise in rates of emotional mental health disorders as age increases.

Mental Health Disorders in Children and Young People

Figure 1: Rates of different types of disorder in 5 to 19-year olds by age. (NHS Digital, 2018)

Mental Health and Gender

From ages 2 to 10, boys were more likely than girls to have a disorder, with boys aged 5 to 10 being almost twice as likely than girls of the same age to have a mental health disorder. Amongst the 11 to 16-year olds, girls and boys were equally likely to have a disorder. However, girls between the ages of 17 and 19 were more than twice as likely as boys to have a disorder.

Young Women

Compared with any other demographic group, rates of emotional mental disorders and self-harm were reported to be the highest in young women aged 17 to 19, as presented in the NHS survey. Over half (52.7%) of these girls reported to have self-harmed or had attempted to commit suicide. 5.6% of the girls identified with Body Dysmorphia (BDD) and 1.6% had an eating disorder.

Associations of Mental Disorders

There are multiple influences that can increase the onset of mental health disorders in children, with one being the functioning of the child’s family. In some cases, however, mental health disorders may be the cause of problems within families, which therefore forms a vicious cycle. A child’s mental health can also be affected by their parent’s mental health, the child’s support network, how much they participate in their social surrounding and adverse life events (e.g. Parental separation and/or financial struggles at home).

Other factors that can influence a child’s mental health is their physical well-being and daily social media use. Children aged 11 to 19 with a mental disorder were 10% more likely to use social media daily compared to children of the same age without a disorder. A growing problem linked to social media is the impact it has on young people’s self-esteem, as they are constantly comparing themselves to the perfect picture and consequently thinking less of their own lives.

Contact

This survey showed that 1 in 4 children (24.1%) with a disorder had no professional or informal support. This support is critical and can prove to be life-saving in some cases. It is important to acknowledge that regardless of what their age is, we should all be thinking about improving and supporting the mental health of children and young people and raising awareness of this issue.

If you need any help or information regarding child mental health, please phone or visit any of the numbers or sites down below.

NHS Mental Health Helplines

Written by Sabrina K Bolia (Future Genetics Research Scientist)

Mental Health statistics: time to help

Mental illnesses are continuously affecting individuals and families. There are a wide range of mental illnesses that fall into different sub categories. Examples of mental illnesses include Depression, anxiety, Bipolar and Schizophrenia.

25% of young women suffer from a mental illness

Everyday more and more people are diagnosed with a mental illness especially women. Mental illnesses are also becoming more frequent in the younger population. A recent study conducted in 2017 by the NHS and involved more than 9,000 individuals. The results of this study were that 1 in 4 Young women will develop a mental illness and a total of 23.9% reported having a disorder.

More needs to be done around the topic of mental illnesses due to how common they are amongst the whole population. Mental illnesses are most common in young females. I believe that more needs to be done around the topic of mental illnesses due to how common they are amongst the whole population. As they are most common in young females I hope I will be able to help other young females who are suffering from a mental illness by contributing to creating awareness around this issue.

Poor Mental Health and triggers

There are many factors which may contribute to the development of a mental Illness in young females such as exam stress, which a large proportion of teenagers will have to face. Body image is also a significant factor. This factor is enhanced by social media which constantly promotes an idealistic image, in addition social media also causes a constant comparison against other girls. However, it is debatable whether or not social media can be solely blamed despite being a factor. Social media is extremely time consuming with nearly one third of children spending at least four hours on these apps. Those who did have a mental health problem were two to three times less likely to spend at least 4 hours on social media which shows it does have a negative impact. The ways it appears to have negative impact is by the number of likes, comparison and cyber-bullying as well. Despite this social media cannot be blamed as the only culprit. As sometimes social media can be used to support an individual who is suffering from a mental illness.

Affected populations & support frameworks

These factors are not only specific to females but males as well, especially the younger population, as 1 in 9 children aged between 5-15 are reported to have a disorder. This figure has been rising over the years as it now stands at 11.2% in comparison to 9.7% in 1999. Figures are constantly rising but not all young people are receiving the help and support they need. This is shown by how nearly a third of young individuals who were referred to community services got turned away. Even those who received help had to wait an alarming average time period of 2 months. 32% were waiting for treatment at the end of the year and 15% had to wait over 6 weeks to even be seen. This needs to change, young, at risk and vulnerable children should not have to wait these time periods to receive treatment or to be seen.