A quarter of teenagers aged 17 to 19 are thought to be living with a probable mental disorder in 2022, a new NHS report has found.
It is the third follow up of the report, after the first Mental Health of Children and Young People survey took place in 2017, followed by a second in 2021.
The findings are based on the experiences of the same 2,866 young people aged above six years old, who have been followed up since the initial report.
It found that while rates of a probable mental disorder were the same for men and women aged 17 to 19, the rates for women ages 17 to 24-year-old were twice as high as men in the same age bracket.
It added that the children affected by probable disorders were more likely to live in a household with money issues or one that uses a food bank.
Mental health charities have called the survey results “worrying” and labelling it as a “national emergency”. Sophie Corlett, Interim CEO for Mind said in a statement: “It’s deeply worrying to see that as many as a quarter of young people aged 17 to 19 are now experiencing a mental health problem, up from one in six in 2021 and one in 10 in 2017.
“We’re also seeing the toll of the cost-of-living crisis on young adults with mental health problems, who were seven times more likely than their peers without mental health problems to have used food banks or experienced food insecurity in the last year. Despite the need for support continuing to rise, young people are still left facing an agonising wait in a system that cannot keep up with demand, and the UK government’s response so far has just not been good enough.”
Corlett added that the British government “will be failing an entire generation” unless it “prioritises investment” in relevant mental health services for young people.
“The earlier a young person gets support for their mental health, the more effective that support is likely to be,” she added. “Young people and their families cannot be side-lined any longer by the government, who need to prioritise the crisis in youth mental health as a matter of national emergency.”
Separate NHS figures released last week found that the number of under-18s in contact with NHS mental health services in England has risen by nearly 30% in the past year.