In recent months, there has been a lot of focus in the media about mental health issues in young people in the UK. Celebrities, the Royals, all trying to raise awareness and more funding for earlier diagnosis and treatment.
Children and young people the most affected
The data is scary. According to Mintel, in a paper released in November 2017 “Managing a healthy lifestyle” the population affected the most by stress and anxiety is the 16-24-year-old (25% feel anxious or stressed every day).
Growing up can be tough for some children and for most, going through the teenage years can be a difficult time of self-discovery, without all the added pressure nowadays brought by the online world. Tom Madders, who leads the youth mental health charity Young Minds campaigns said: “The factors behind mental health problems can be complex and multiple, but we know that children today face a wide range of pressures including school stress, bullying and pressures around body image and growing up in an online world.”
Today, studies show that 75% of mental illnesses start before a child reaches 18, while 50% of mental health problems in adult life took root before the age of 15.
Diagnosis and treatment
Children with depression and anxiety are often not being diagnosed or given help, leading to an alarming 75% of young people with a mental health problem currently not receiving treatment.
Data published by the health statistics body (Information Services Division) in Scotland recently revealed that the number of children aged 10-14yrs prescribed antidepressants has risen 143% in 10 years and even more worryingly, the number of children as young as 5-9 years old has risen by 27% over the same time period. Overall, the number of prescriptions in teenagers and children aged 19 and under has increased by 90% since 2009.
This type of treatment can be seen in most cases as being a plaster over the issue without really trying to focus on the factors contributing to these symptoms.