One in six children now have a probable mental disorder, up from one in nine in 2017, new figures have revealed.
The data, published by NHS Digital, shows that over the past three years the number of boys with a probable mental disorder has increased from 11.4% to 16.7%, while the rate for girls has risen from 10.3% to 15.2%.
The report also explored the impact family life, education, and worries during the pandemic had on children’s mental health. It found children with a probable mental health disorder were more likely to have a parent who were worried their family and friends would catch COVID-19.
They were also eight times more likely to feel lonely, were less likely to receive regular support from their school or college, and were more likely to live in a household that had fallen behind with payments during lockdown.
Martina Kane, policy lead for the Health Foundation’s Young People’s Future Health inquiry, said: 'Young people with existing mental health problems also reported that lockdown had made their life worse. This would have coincided with closures or reduction of key services, including mental health services and youth services.
'There must be immediate, targeted action to support the most vulnerable, including children and young people with an existing mental health condition. Longer term, a cross government strategy is needed which recognises the impact of people’s circumstances on their long term health and aims builds a better future for our young people.'