Mental Health Statistics

Young people’s mental health and wellbeing has never been so important. These statistics show just how big – and growing – the problem is for young people in the UK

Mental health is a big issue for young people…

  • 1 in 10 children have a diagnosable mental health disorder – that’s roughly 3 children in every classroom (i)
  • 1 in 5 young adults have a diagnosable mental health disorder (ii)
  • Half of all mental health problems manifest by the age of 14, with 75% by age 24
  • Almost 1 in 4 children and young people show some evidence of mental ill health (including anxiety and depression) (iii)
  • Suicide is the most common cause of death for boys aged between 5-19 years, and the second most common for girls of this age (iv)
  • 1 in 12 young people self-harm at some point in their lives, though there is evidence that this could be a lot higher. Girls are more likely to self-harm than boys. (v)

It has a big impact in adulthood…

  • Women who had experienced one childhood adversity had a 66% increased risk of premature death, and those who had experienced two or more adversities had an 80% increased risk compared to their peers (vi)
  • 1 in 3 adult mental health conditions relate directly to adverse childhood experiences

Young people need more support…

  • 3 in 4 children with a diagnosable mental health condition do not get access to the support that they need (vii)
  • The average maximum waiting time for a first appointment with CAMHS is 6 months and nearly 10 months until the start of treatment
  • CAMHS are turning away nearly a quarter (23%) of children referred to them for treatment by concerned parents, GPs, teachers and others
  • Just 0.7% of the NHS budget is spent on children’s mental health and only 16% of this is spent on early intervention
  • The cost to the economy of all-age mental health problems is estimated at £105 billion a year – roughly the cost of the entire NHS (viii)


I. Green H et al (2005) Mental health of children and young people in Great Britain, 2004. Basingstoke: Palgrave MacMillan.

II. Missed Opportunities

III. ONS (2016) Selected Children’s Well-being Measures by Country: 3 CentreForum (2016) Commission on Child

IV.  Wolfe et al (2014, Why children die: death in infants, children and young people in the UK).

V.  Brooks, F., et al. (2015) HBSC England National Report 2014. University of Hertfordshire; Hatfield, UK.

VI.  Kelly‐Irving, M., Lepage, B., Dedieu, D., Bartley, M., Blane, D., Grosclaude, P., Lang, T., Delpierre, C. (2013) ‘Adverse childhood experiences and premature all‐cause mortality’ European Journal of Epidemiology 28(9): 721‐ 734.

VII.  Green H et al (2005) Mental health of children and young people in Great Britain, 2004. Basingstoke: Palgrave MacMillan.


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