1 in 6 children in England suffering with mental health conditions

Latest NHS Digital figures have shown that 1 in 6 children in England are suffering with a diagnosable mental health condition. 

New data and insight from charity Place2Be has also revealed that that nearly 78% of young people supported by the charity last year felt anxious in social situations. 

However, research from the charity, which works with children on a one-to-one basis as well as through group work, shows that with support, 76% of primary and secondary aged children and young people who started with severe mental health difficulties improved.   

The data comes in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. This saw a challenge to friendships and classroom connections, with many teachers asking for support in helping young people improve their social interactions.  

It is understood that the lack of a ‘meaningful connection’ – establishing a friendship which allows children to be vulnerable and support one another – is a key driver in loneliness and anxiety. 

Place2Be works in partnership with over 500 schools across the country, reaching over 240,000 school pupils. The charity embeds mental health and wellbeing across schools, as well as offering targeted counselling with children, training for school staff and mental health practitioners, and support for families. 

CEO of Place2Be, Catherine Roche says: “In one-to-one sessions with our counsellors, children are telling us how difficult they find it to form and maintain friendships.  

“Forming positive relationships is fundamental to our mental wellbeing and this has been significantly disrupted in recent years.  

“While the statistics around children’s mental health problems are stark, I am optimistic. Through targeted intervention across the school, we can help children and young people become confident, resilient and able to cope with life’s challenges.  

“Disconnection and loneliness should not be a part of school life.” 

Place2Be’s annual Children’s Mental Health Week is now in its ninth year.  

Each year, the week builds awareness of the mental health crisis facing children and young people across the UK and equips schools and families with resources to discuss and address this crisis. 

This year, the charity will encourage schools and families to take part in a series of activities across primary and secondary to explore connections:  

  • Exploring emotions through art 
  • Supporting young adults to explore themes of loneliness and what can be done to address this, creating puzzle pieces and paper chains 
  • Encouraging discussion about friendship inside and outside the classroom 

Shakil (name changed), 16, from a school in South London, said: “School can be overwhelming. It is loud, noisy, and if you are someone who is quieter, or shy, it can be terrifying.  

“It’s particularly hard since COVID – some friendships have deepened, but others disappeared.  

“You had to choose who to go on a walk with. I think the school can play a massive role in helping people get through difficulties.  

“It’s important you speak to someone if you are having trouble, and to look out for students who are struggling”. 

Place2Be is encouraging everyone to get involved in Mental Health Week.  

They are providing top tips for parents and teachers on having open conversations, advice on developing friendships, videos from celebrities on their experiences with mental health, and guidance for young people on the mental health challenges we face today.  

The charity is also partnering with charity Childnet for Safer Internet Day to help teachers guide their students in forming safe and fulfilling friendships online. 

CEO Catherine Roche continued: “We hope this week that everyone, whether a child or adult, in school, at home or out with friends, has at least one meaningful conversation with someone.  

“Reach out! We need to embed a culture of destigmatizing our mental health to create a brighter future for our young people.”  

To get involved in Children’s Mental Health Week click here.  

Children’s Mental Health Week is kindly supported by players of the People’s Postcode Lottery, The Beaverbrook Foundation and The Prudence Trust. 

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