Connell Consulting

HealthInvestor Nov 2014: The kids aren’t alright

A shortage of specialist CAMHS services is storing up problems for the NHS, finds Clare Connell of Connell Consulting.

Increasing demand for specialist children and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS)

The statistics on mental health for children in the UK are difficult to ignore. One in 10 children and young people aged five to 16 in the UK have a diagnosable mental health disorder, which amounts to nearly 850,000 children. The number with undiagnosed conditions could, worryingly, be much higher.

Depression is one area of mental health conditions that impacts heavily on children and is connected to many others such as eating disorders and selfharm. Nearly 80,000 children and young people have severe depression and over 8,000 of those are children aged between just five to 10 years old. The number of young people aged 15-16 with depression nearly doubled between the 1980s and the 2000s. When you consider that many more cases of depression surely go undiagnosed and therefore untreated, it is obvious both individuals and mental healthcare services will simply face larger problems in the future.

The Mental Health Foundation estimates that up to one in 12 children deliberately harm themselves and 25,000 are hospitalised each year because of this. Over the past 10 years this figure has increased by 68%.

Eating disorders are effectively another form of self-harm for troubled young people and one in five young adults shows signs of one. Sadly, this condition has a 25% mortality rate. The focus of today’s media on having the perfect body is often blamed for the prevalence of eating disorders. They are particularly prevalent among girls and those girls are often diagnosed as having other mental health problems…