Children’s mental health has not improved post-lockdown

New data released by NHS Digital has shown that the mental health of children and young people has not improved since last year's lockdown.

As many as one in six children in England had a probable mental disorder in 2021 - similar to 2020, and up from one in nine in 2017. Additionally, nearly 40 per cent of six to 16-year-olds, and half of 17 to 23-year-olds, said they felt their mental health had got worse over that time.

The NHS Digital report authors said it was difficult to work out how much of the change in children's mental health was because of the pandemic - but they found those with a probable mental health disorder were more likely to be worse off during it.

A recent BBC investigation found that one in five children seen by mental health services in the past year waited more than 12 weeks for care in many areas of England.

The mental health survey also found that: 58 per cent of 17 to 19-year-olds had possible eating problems in 2021, up from 44 per cent in 2017 - with three-quarters of girls affected, while sleeping problems affected more than a quarter of six to 10-year-olds, a third of 11 to 16-year-olds, and half of 17 to 23-year-olds in 2021.

Charity YoungMinds said the research was ‘a stark warning’ that the increase in children with probable mental disorders last year appeared to be ‘here to stay, unless swift government action is taken’.

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