Today, NHS Digital, in collaboration with ONS and NatCen Social Research, have published estimates into the mental health of children and young people in England.

Tim Vizard, Branch Head for the Mental Health of Children and Young People Survey at ONS reports back on the launch of yesterday’s “Mental Health in Children and Young People”.

One in eight (12.8%) 5 to 19 year olds had at least one mental disorder when assessed in 2017.

Specific mental disorders were grouped into four broad categories: emotional, behavioural, hyperactivity and other less common disorders. Emotional disorders were the most prevalent type of disorder experienced by 5 to 19 year olds in 2017 (8.1%).

Rates of mental disorders increased with age. 5.5% of 2 to 4 year old children experienced a mental disorder, compared to 16.9% of 17 to 19 year olds. Caution is needed, however, when comparing rates between age groups due to differences in data collection. For example, teacher reports were available only for 5 to 16 year olds. 

Data from this survey series reveal a slight increase over time in the prevalence of mental disorder in 5 to 15 year olds (the age-group covered on all surveys in this series). Rising from 9.7% in 1999 and 10.1% in 2004, to 11.2% in 2017.

Emotional disorders have become more common in five to 15 year-olds – going from 4.3% in 1999 and 3.9% in 2004 to 5.8% in 2017. All other types of disorder, such as behavioural, hyperactivity and other less common disorders, have remained similar in prevalence for this age group since 1999.

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