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In brief: 1 in 5 young people living with a probable mental health issue

An image of the back of a teenager silhouetted against a sunset

News round-up by Conor D'Andrade

1 in 5 children and young people have a probable mental health disorder

A survey conducted by NHS England found that 1 in 5 children and young people aged between 8 to 25 have a probable mental health disorder in 2023.

The Mental Health of Children and Young People in England 2023 report revealed that 20.3% of 8 to 16-year-olds had a probable mental health disorder in 2023.

Among 17 to 19-year-olds, the proportion was 23.3%, while in 20 to 25-year-olds it was 21.7%.

The study also found an alarming increase in eating disorders, with 12.5% of 17 to 19-year-olds reporting having an eating disorder in 2023, compared with 0.8% in 2017.

Rates of eating disorders were four times higher in girls (4.3%) than boys (1.0%) in 11 to 16-year-olds in 2023.

NHS mental health director, Claire Murdoch, said:

"The report shows the continued unprecedented pressures faced by young people and reflects the increased demand for NHS children’s mental health services.

"The NHS is providing support for more children and young people than ever before – we have already supported over 700,000 children and young people with their mental health this year and also seen a 47% increase in young people being treated for eating disorders compared to pre-pandemic.

"It is vital that any child or young person struggling, or their family, reaches out for help so they can get the care they need."

Investigation finds mental health patients left trapped in hospitals for years

Mental health patients are enduring prolonged stays in hospitals due to a severe shortage of community care, reaching a record high, as revealed by a report from The Independent.

The report discloses that 3,213 patients, including 325 children in adult units, were stranded in hospitals for more than three months last year, with the average stay for patients in low-security hospitals in 2022–23 being 833 days.

Among them, a troubling number had been considered well enough to leave but had no suitable place to go, leading to the NHS spending hundreds of thousands of pounds yearly to accommodate patients who could otherwise be discharged.

Community services are reportedly struggling to attend to patients, partly due to the NHS experiencing a 10% vacancy rate, resulting in patients waiting an average of 13 weeks to see a community mental health worker. Some have been waiting up to 60 weeks, while one in five referrals for community care are being rejected.

In August, 10% of patients waited 221 days on average to commence community treatment, and 1 in 10 patients under a community mental health team did not see a healthcare worker for a year.

People still feeling mental health impacts of lockdown rules – study

Research has found that individuals who strictly adhered to Covid-19 restrictions during the pandemic are now experiencing worse mental health.

The study examined the behaviour of approximately 1,700 people during Covid restrictions in relation to their personality traits and post-pandemic recovery.

The findings revealed that individuals who were more sensitive to the needs of others were more likely to comply with lockdown rules and health advice, compared with those more focused on their own needs.

However, those who reported high levels of compliance with Covid restrictions and were most concerned about infection during the pandemic were least likely to have resumed normal behaviour and more likely to experience stress, anxiety, and depression now.

The study suggests that higher levels of compliance with Covid rules during the pandemic predicted lower current levels of well-being.

Better training and assessments needed for healthcare professionals working with psychoactive substance users

New research exploring the experiences of healthcare professionals working with people using new psychoactive substances has revealed a need for improved training, education, and assessment processes.

The study consisted of a series of semi-structured interviews with healthcare professionals in mental health addiction healthcare services across various locations, resulting in five common themes being identified, including a lack of assessment procedures and the impact of stigma on treatment availability.

The results also highlighted the importance of policy-making opportunities across different healthcare services that may encounter people using new psychoactive substances.

Crucial LGBTQ+ hotline losing funding

The LGBT+ Cymru Helpline, based in Swansea, is facing a funding crisis that could result in the loss of lives unless financial support is secured, according to its founder, Debbie Lane.

The helpline, costing about £150,000 a year to run, provides counselling services, with half of its clients being children and young people.

Although it recently received two grants from the National Lottery Community Fund in Wales, the charity has had to turn away new referrals due to insufficient funds.

In 2021, the counselling services expanded to include heterosexuals, constituting 30% of its client base – a move made possible by funding from the National Lottery, which is now ceasing.

Survey finds early career musicians are struggling with mental health

A joint report by Help Musicians and the Musicians’ Union has found that 30% of UK musicians grapple with poor mental wellbeing, a percentage that rises to 41% for music students.

The survey of 5,867 musicians found a strong link between negative mental well-being and doubts about future work in music.

Musicians in the early stages of their careers are particularly affected, with 41% of students and those not yet working in the field experiencing low mental well-being.

Additionally, musicians from marginalised groups, such as trans musicians and disabled musicians, are more likely to face struggles with mental health, with differences also being observed depending on regions and genre.


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