BACP is calling on the government to use new figures showing the rates of children with mental health problems to help improve services.

One in eight (12.8%) children had at least one mental health disorder when assessed in 2017, according to NHS digital figures released today.

There was a slight increase in those aged between five and 15 with mental health problems, up from 9.7% in 1999 and 10.1% in 2004, to 11.2% in 2017.

The figures are based on a survey of more than 9,000 young people. It’s the first time they have been published for 13 years.

We are urging the government to take these figures into account when developing proposals to improve mental health services for children and young people.

Specifically, we believe the government’s plans for the workforce for the Children and Young People’s Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (CYP IAPT) programme will need to be adapted to account for the increased number of children with a mental health disorder.

We also believe these new figures further call into question the ambition and reach of the proposals of the Transforming children and young people’s mental health provision green paper.

Grave concern

Suky Kaur, head of policy at BACP, said:

“These figures are a grave concern at a time when services are stretched and young people are sadly not getting the access to mental health care that they need.

“We hope this new information will be a catalyst for the government to look again at its plans for mental health treatment of young people. The best interests of this growing number of children with mental health disorders must be at the heart of these plans. The Government must listen again to stakeholders and bring forward proposals that will actually deliver for children and young people.”

“We know there is a dedicated counselling workforce whose skills and experience can help change the lives of children and young people. We will continue to work with the government to ensure counselling is a crucial part of this drive to improve mental health care.

“We need this study to be carried out every five years if we are to truly understand and address the challenges surrounding young people’s mental health.”

The figures were released on the same day the Children’s Commissioner for England, Anne Longfield, called for an NHS-funded counsellor to be placed in every school.

Her Children’s Mental Health Briefing said that slow progress was being made in improving specialist community services for children, waiting times were too long and she was concerned about numbers being rejected by services in some areas.


Read more about our campaign on the Transforming children and young people’s mental health provision green paper.