39% increase in the number of children needing help for serious mental health problems

The numbers show a dramatic increase in the number of children needing treatment for serious mental health problems, including eating disorders.

NHS data analyzed by the PA news agency shows that referrals to NHS mental health treatment for under-18s in 2021/22 increased by 39% to more than one million (1,169,515) a year.

This compares to the previous year 2020/21 – the pandemic year – when the figure was 839,570. In 2019/20 there were 850,741 referrals.

UK-wide data include children who are suicidal, self-harm, suffer from severe depression or anxiety, and have eating disorders.

Meanwhile, NHS Digital data analyzed by the PA shows that hospital admissions for eating disorders are increasing among children and teenagers.

Among under-18s, there were 7,719 admissions in 2021/22 compared to 6,079 the previous year and 4,232 in 2019/20 – an 82% increase in two years.

From April to October 2022 – the latest data available – 3,456 people were admitted, up 38% from 2,508 in the same period of 2019 before the pandemic.

Between April and October 2020, there were 3,011 applications and 4,600 applications in the same period of 2021, when all the effects of the pandemic were felt.

The data show that for people of all ages, including adults, 2022/23 could see the highest number of hospitalizations for eating disorders.

From April to October 2022, there were 15,083 admissions compared to 28,436 for the full previous year (2021/22) versus 28,436.

There were 23,351 admissions a year ago and 20,650 in 2019/20, marking a 38% increase between 2019/20 and 2021/22.

Head of the Royal College of Psychiatrists faculty of child and adolescent psychiatry, Dr. Elaine Lockhart told PA that the increase in referrals for children and youth reflects a range of illnesses.

He said “specialist services need to respond to the most urgent and most disturbing,” including youth with psychosis, suicidal thoughts and severe anxiety disorders.

Dr Lockhart said the goals of urgently seeing children with eating disorders have “completely” shifted and more staff are needed.

“I think what’s frustrating for us is that if we could see them faster and intervene, then the challenges might not be as severe as they used to be because they had to wait,” he added.

Dr Lockhart said the mental health of children and youth had worsened before the pandemic, as rising social inequality, austerity and online harm were playing a role.

“When the quarantines and the epidemic broke out, it had a really negative impact on a lot of kids,” he added.

“The well-off became vulnerable, and the vulnerable became ill.

“And part of that was about children feeling so detached from the everyday life that supported them… but also about seeing their own parents struggling, and then the collective sense of heightened anxiety and loss of control that we all really had over the kids.”

Head of the college’s eating disorders faculty, Dr.

A number of factors, such as genetics, social media, anxiety (including the pandemic), and weight loss advertisements, can affect a child’s chances of developing an eating disorder, he said.

He told PA: “The numbers, the trends are increasing. The pandemic certainly had an impact, but trends have been on the rise ever since.

“There is no indication that the numbers will fall without a strategy that includes prevention, improved treatment, better access to effective inpatient care, and better research facilities.”

Stating that the hospitalization numbers of children and young people are “extremely heartbreaking”, Ayton said, “Without early support, the treatment of eating disorders becomes much worse and difficult to treat, with potentially life-changing consequences.

“Government and NHS leaders must ensure that specialist services are supported with the same level of focus given to elective care if they are serious about tackling this ongoing eating disorder crisis.”

Tom Madders, director of communications and campaigns at YoungMinds, said the numbers were “deeply worrying,” adding: “We know from conversations with young people and from our own research that last year was one of the most difficult for this age group. The transition from the pandemic to more limited prospects for their future, lost coupled with the rise in academic pressure to compensate for learning and the impact of the cost of living crisis.

“Unfortunately, after a series of similar statistics in recent months that have highlighted the youth mental health emergency, the numbers are not surprising.

“The current game situation cannot continue. The government should take care of the situation,” he said.

Data show that anorexia is the most common eating disorder leading to hospitalizations of all ages, with 10,808 admissions in 2021/22.

Bulimia is the second most common with 5,563 while other eating disorders are responsible for 12,893 admissions.

(PA Charts)

(PA Charts)

Tom Quinn, director of external affairs at the eating disorder charity Beat, called the figures “extremely worrying”.

“Hospital treatment is often reserved for the most disturbed, and so the increase in hospital admissions suggests that young people are not getting local treatment fast enough and eating disorders may become more established.

“Government and the NHS should establish a plan to fill workforce gaps, which should include the allocation of trained and supervised non-clinical staff where appropriate.

“Further eating disorder education for health and education professionals will help to quickly identify the signs of eating disorders and provide referrals for young people to get support at the first opportunity.”

An NSPCC spokesperson said: “These alarming numbers are unfortunately reflected in our conversations through Childline. The service provides tens of thousands of counseling sessions each year to children and teenagers who self-harm, suffer from depression or anxiety, have suicidal thoughts, and have eating disorders. ”

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: “Improving eating disorders services is a key priority and we are investing £53 million a year in community eating disorder services for children and youth to build the capacity of 70 community teams across the country.

“We are investing £2.3 billion a year in mental health services, which means 345,000 more children and young people will have access to support by 2024, and by this time we aim to grow the mental health workforce to 27,000 staff.” more.”

Leave a Comment