Home Health Nearly a quarter of children now have a ‘mental disorder’, figures suggest

Nearly a quarter of children now have a ‘mental disorder’, figures suggest

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Nearly a quarter of children now have a 'mental disorder', figures suggest



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Almost a quarter of children in England currently suffer from a “probable mental disorder”, according to a report from the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

The rate of these disorders, recorded from the responses of a questionnaire to young people between 8 and 16 years old, is increasing.

The 2023 data suggested that 23.3 percent of children had a probable mental disorder, such as anxiety or depression, up from 19 percent the previous year.

Experts have previously highlighted the impact of the Covid pandemic and the disruption it caused to children’s education and social lives, along with the cost of living crisis and social media, as detrimental to children’s mental wellbeing .

The statistic appeared in the ONS ‘Child Wellbeing Measures’ report for 2024, which also highlighted shocking increases in the stressors British children are experiencing.

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One was the proportion of children now living in “food insecure households,” according to interviews with their parents or caregivers.

In a sign of the rising cost of living, data for 2023 shows that more than one in six children (16.9 percent) now live in households at risk of not providing them with the nutrition they need.

This figure is an increase from just over one in 10 children (11.6 percent) in 2022.

Poverty also increased year after year.

The proportion of children living in a household without full access to 21 everyday goods and services increased to 15.3 percent, equivalent to approximately one in six children.

This figure was up from 12.6 percent (about one in 10 children) the previous year.

The pervasive nature of social media and online access also had an increasing negative impact on children’s well-being.

Almost a third (32 per cent) of children reported seeing something “worrying or unpleasant” in the last 12 months of November last year.

This represents a 29 percent increase from the previous year.

The team did not explain what content this might include, but social media is flooded with graphic war zone videos or explicit adult content.

There was also an increase in the number of child victims of crime.

Almost one in 10 (9.8 per cent) children were a victim of crime in 2023, according to the ONS report, up from around one in 20 (6.6 per cent) in 2022.

Boys were more likely than girls to be victims of crime: 11.6 percent, compared to just 8 percent.

However, while boys only saw the rate of crime they experienced increase by 3.5 percentage points year over year, girls saw their rate double.

Children were also less likely to have visited nature in 2023.

Access to green spaces has been linked to a number of health benefits, both mental and physical.

However, less than half (46.4 per cent) of children aged eight to 15 in England visited an outdoor area other than their garden during the last week they were out of school in 2023, according to the ONS report. .

This is a drop from 50.1 percent of children who reported visiting such a location in 2022.

When it came to overall life satisfaction, British children expressed mixed feelings.

About one in 20 (4.8 percent) of children reported having “low” overall satisfaction with their lives in 2023, the same proportion as the previous year.

But the proportion who rated their satisfaction with life as high rose to 44.5 percent, up from 41.5 percent the previous year.

However, only 35.8 percent rated it “very high,” down from 38.4 percent the previous year.

More children also described feeling unhappy in 2023.

When asked to rate their happiness the previous day, 6.4 percent of children rated it as “low,” a minor increase from 6.1 percent the year before.

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