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One in six children have a probable mental disorder

The proportion of children experiencing a probable mental disorder has increased over the past three years, from one in nine in 2017 to one in six in July this year.

The rate has risen in boys aged 5 to 16 from 11.4 per cent in 2017 to 16.7 per cent in July 2020 and in girls from 10.3 per cent to 15.2 per cent over the same time period, according to The Mental Health of Children and Young People in England 2020 report, published by NHS Digital, in collaboration with the Office for National Statistics, the National Centre for Social Research, the University of Cambridge and the University of Exeter.

The likelihood of a probable mental disorder increases with age, with a noticeable difference in gender for the older age group (17 to 22 year olds); 27.2 per cent of young women and 13.3 per cent of young men in this age group were identified as having a probable mental disorder in 2020.

The report looks at the mental health of children and young people in England in July 2020, and how this has changed since 2017. Experiences of family life, education and services, and worries and anxieties during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic are also examined. The findings draw on a sample of 3,570 children and young people aged between 5 to 22 years old, surveyed in both 2017 and July 20204.

Data in the publication are broken down into the following sections:

In respect of family dynamics, the report revealed that among girls aged 11 to 16, nearly two-thirds (63.8 per cent) with a probable mental disorder had seen or heard an argument among adults in their household, compared to 46.8 per cent of girls unlikely to have a mental disorder.

For the report, click here. For a blog post by Tim Vizard, Branch Head for the Mental Health of Children and Young People Survey at ONS, click here.