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Prescriptions of mental health medicines for children have increased by nearly 60%

News round-up by Conor D'Andrade

Newly published research from the University of Aberdeen has found that on average mental health prescriptions for children have increased by almost 60% in Scotland.

Overall, the research found that there has been a general increase in prescriptions for children, alongside observing differences in treatment based on gender and family wealth.

Specifically, it was found that prescriptions of antidepressants for children had increased by 59%, prescriptions for ADHD were up by 45%, and medication for treating psychosis has risen by 35%.

The study revealed that boys were significantly more likely to be prescribed medication than girls, with 73% of prescriptions being made out to boys, mostly to treat ADHD.

However, while boys received more prescriptions in primary school, girls received more when attending secondary school, mostly for depression.

Additionally, children from families living in poverty were twice more likely to be prescribed medication when compared to children from more affluent families.

The study was comprised of data collected from the medical records of 18,732 children from NHS Grampian between 2015 and 2021.

Research Fellow, Dr William Ball said:

“One in six children in the United Kingdom are estimated to have a mental health condition, and many do not receive support or treatment. The pandemic appears to have exacerbated this issue.

“The large increase in mental health prescribing and changes in referrals to specialist outpatient care aligns with emerging evidence of increasing poor mental health, particularly since the start of the pandemic.” 


Number of GPs seeking medical support for mental health issues has hit “record numbers”

According to the Byline Times, the number of self-referrals from GPs to the NHS Practitioner Health Service, a mental health service specifically for health professionals, has now reached 150 a week, with it even reaching 184 by the end of December.

For context, in 2009 there were 150 referrals to the service in a year.

The majority of these recent referrals have been for help with depression and anxiety.

Many have reported feelings of hopelessness, fear and guilt due to their inability to deliver proper care to patients due to chronically overstretched resources.

Chair of Doctors in Distress and Ambassador of Practitioner Health & President of the Royal College of GPs, Dame Clare Gerada said:

“It is hardly surprising given the constant negative media and political attention directed at them in recent months, coupled with their impossible task of meeting demand against falling capacity (time, staff, resources) to do so.”

Campaign highlighting nicotine withdrawal symptoms to launch in US

The FDA is partnering with FCB New York to launch a campaign demonstrating how withdrawals from nicotine from cigarettes can lead to symptoms of anxiety, irritable or angry emotions, restlessness, fatigue and insomnia – factors that can significantly impede the mental health of young people.

This campaign is part of the FDA’s wider “The Real Cost” initiative, which aims to combat smoking among adolescents.

It will launch across social media sites TikTok and Snapchat, digital and radio, attempting to help teens reconsider how much they know about the dangers of smoking.

The campaign hopes to do this by demonstrating that smoking isn’t only associated with long-term addiction and health issues, which is how most adolescents view the activity, but rather that it also has immediate negative effects on their well-being and mental health through cravings and withdrawals.

The director at FCB New York, Gary Resch, said:

“Most young smokers live with the illusion that they can smoke casually and remain immune to the risks of nicotine addiction. This campaign flips that illusion into disillusionment by using the regretful voices of older smokers who were similarly in denial when they themselves were teens.”


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