According to official data, the number of children in the UK needing treatment for serious mental health problems has increased by 39% in one year.
Pandemic, social inequalities, austerity and online abuse are all contributing to the crisis, with NHS mental health treatment referrals for under-18s to rise to over 1.1 million in 2021-22, experts say doing.
An analysis of official figures by PA Media showed 850,741 referrals in 2019-20, compared to 839,570 in 2020-21, the first year of the pandemic.
This figure includes suicides, self-harm, children suffering from severe depression and anxiety, and children with eating disorders.
Dr. Elaine Lockhart, professor of child and adolescent psychiatry at the Royal Psychiatric Society, said the increase in referrals reflected “all kinds of” illness.
She said “specialist services need to respond to the most urgent and sickest”, including young people suffering from psychosis, suicidal ideation and severe anxiety disorders.
Lockhart said the goal of urgently seeing children with eating disorders had dropped “completely” and needed more staff.
“What is frustrating for us is [that] If we could have seen them sooner and intervened, they would have had to wait, so the difficulties might not be as severe as they were,” she added.
Lockhart said children’s mental health had deteriorated before the pandemic, in part because of rising social inequalities, austerity and online harm.
“When the lockdown and pandemic hit, it really affected a lot of kids very badly,” she added. collapsed.
“And part of it was about the children themselves feeling so disconnected from the daily life that supports them … but I also see my own parents struggling. And it heightened the collective sense of insecurity and loss of control that we all really had with our children.”
Tom Madders, campaign director at YoungMinds, called the numbers “very alarming”, adding: Increased academic pressure to catch up on lost learning and the impact of the cost of living crisis.
“The current state of play cannot continue. The government must grasp the situation.”
Meanwhile, another NHS digital data shows that hospitalizations for eating disorders are on the rise among children. 6,079 in 2019-20, up from 4,232 in 2019-20, an 82% increase over the two years.
The NSPCC described the numbers as “disturbing.”
A Department of Health and Human Services spokeswoman said: By this time, he had also increased his mental health staff by 27,000. “