There has been a significant increase in the number of children and teenagers with mental health disorders, with data released by the NHS revealing that up to one-quarter of those aged 17-19 have now been left with some sort of “probable mental disorder”. Issues surrounding both lockdown school closures and Britain’s post-lockdown economic downturn appear like they may have contributed to the deteriorating mental health of children in the country. According to the data released on Tuesday, 25.7 per cent of teens aged 17-19 have what is deemed a probable mental disorder, up from only 17.4 per cent in 2021, and only 10.1 per cent in 2017. Things were not a whole lot better for those aged 7-16, with 18 per cent being deemed to have a probably mental disorder, an increase of just under 6 per cent on the previous year. When sex was accounted for, boys seemed to be far more susceptible to mental health issues, with males aged 7-10 being nearly twice as likely to experience issues compared with girls of the same age. However, this trend reverses when young adults are examined, with nearly one-third of young women aged 17-24 having some sort of probable mental health issue, compared to just over one in ten men. While the NHS makes no attempts at ascribing a cause to the increase in mental health disorders in their Tuesday press release, the socialised healthcare service does examine a number of factors post-lockdown that may be having an effect on the wellbeing of young people. For example, the release notes that 38.6 per cent of children aged 11-16 are worried about what effect school closures during lockdown will have on their schoolwork, with 43.5 per cent worried about the effect they could have on exams. Economic difficulty largely brought about as a result of lockdown policy — along with Britain’s green agenda, long-term government mismanagement, and the Ukraine war — also appears to have taken its toll on many children, with one in four aged 7-16 with a probable mental disorder reporting that their household had seen income levels drop over the last 12 months, compared with only one in five of all children within this age group. Meanwhile, 14.8 per cent of 17 to 22-year-olds with probable mental disorders reported their household as not having enough food or having to attend a food bank, compared to only 2.1 per cent of the general population. Non-lockdown-related issues may also be contributing to the drop in the well-being of children and young people, with one survey finding that over 70 per cent of those aged 7-12 now fear the effects of climate change. Regardless of the causes, however, the impact of the mental health crisis is something not to be understated, with the NHS reporting that 28.3 per cent of 7 to 16-year-olds and 68.6 per cent of 17 to 24-year-olds report to have attempted self-harm.
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