Record numbers of children and young people are being referred to mental health services for crisis and non-crisis care, as the toll of the pandemic on the country’s mental health is revealed in a new analysis by the Royal College of Psychiatrists.
Eighteen months after the first lockdown and after warnings from the mental health sector about the long-lasting mental health impact of the pandemic, the Royal College of Psychiatrists’ analysis of NHS Digital data found that:
- 190,271 0–18-year-olds were referred to children and young people’s mental health services between April and June this year, up 134% on the same period last year (81,170) and 96% on 2019 (97,342).
- 8,552 children and young people were referred for urgent or emergency crisis care between April and June this year, up 80% on the same period last year (4,741) and up 64% on 2019 (5,219).
- 340,694 children in contact with children and young people’s mental health services at the end of June, up 25% on the same month last year (272,529) and up 51% on June 2019 (225,480).
The Royal College of Psychiatrists is calling on the new education secretary, Nadhim Zahawi MP, to make children and young people’s mental health needs a top priority. He must ensure that all schools have clear plans in place to respond to pupils’ mental health needs and increase investment in staff training to improve the roll-out of Mental Health Support Teams.
Dr Elaine Lockhart, chair of the Faculty of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at the Royal College of Psychiatrists, said:
“These alarming figures reflect what I and many other frontline psychiatrists are seeing in our clinics on a daily basis. The pandemic has had a devastating effect on the nation’s mental health, but it’s becoming increasingly clear that children and young people are suffering terribly.”