Loading. Please wait.
Accessibility help

New report from NHS Digital on prevalence of children and young people experiencing mental health difficulties

A new report from NHS Digital looks at the mental health of children and young people in England in 2022, and how this has changed each year since 2017

Secondary aged students in playground, out of focus, behind a wire fence

The report, published this week, reveals that the proportion of children who are experiencing mental health difficulties has remained at 1 in 6. For young people aged 17 to 19, the rate has worsened and increased to 1 in 4.

The report draws on a sample of 2,866 children and young people aged between 7 to 24 years old. It additionally looks at household circumstances, and their experiences of education, employment and services, and of life in their families and communities.

This year’s data suggests that the rising cost of living is taking its toll on children and young people’s mental health, with affected children being more likely to live in households with financial difficulties. Key findings include:

  • 1 in 4 (28.6%) of children with a probable mental disorder lived in a household that experienced a reduction in household income, compared with 18.1% of those unlikely to have a mental disorder.
  • 1 in 10 (11.8%) of children with a probable mental disorder lived in a household where they had not been able to buy enough food, or had to use a food bank, compared to 4.4% for those unlikely to have a probable mental health disorder.
  • 13.6% of children with a probable mental disorder lived in a household where they could not afford to keep the house warm enough, compared with 6.0% of those unlikely to have a mental disorder.

The report also reveals the links between mental health and education, with education services being the most commonly reported sources of help and advice for children with mental health concerns (32.6%). Other findings include:

  • Children (11 to 16 year olds) with a probable mental disorder were less likely to feel safe at school (61.2%) than those unlikely to have a mental disorder (89.2%). They were also less likely to report enjoyment of learning or having a friend they could turn to for support.
  • School absence rates were higher in children with a probable mental disorder; 12.6% missed more than 15 days of school compared with 3.9% of those unlikely to have a mental disorder.
  • 59.8% children with a probable mental health disorder accessed mental health and wellbeing support at school in the past year.

In response to the new data, Catherine Roche, Chief Executive of Place2Be said:

“We are concerned, but not surprised, by these latest findings. We know that the cost of living crisis is having an impact on schools, families and communities across the UK, and that poverty is one of the biggest drivers of poor mental health in children.

“We also see daily at Place2Be, the impact that a school culture and environment that promotes and supports children’s mental health and wellbeing can have, with a positive impact on engagement in learning, children’s ability to make and keep friends, and a reduction in school exclusions.

“We need to prioritise early intervention and prevention, and work jointly across health and education, to support children before their needs become more serious. Place2Be will continue to support children and families in schools across the UK, but achieving the national change that is needed will take a concerted effort from every section of society, especially to reach those in areas of disadvantage.” 

Read the full report

News & blogs

A photo of a child facing away from the camera while in a classroom looking at the teacher.

Solutions for school attendance roundtable unites sector leaders

Place2Be hosted a cross-sector roundtable to discuss the impact of persistent absence and identify practical solutions. 

Read more
A woman and a young child drawing and smiling together

Place2Be’s online parenting course now available to local authorities

Place2Be’s online parenting course empowers parents and carers to feel better equipped to manage the journey of parenting.

Read more
A photo of Place2Be Clinical Director Niki Cooper smiling at the camera while sitting down. Niki is wearing a yellow shirt with black dots, and a purple scarf.

Place2Be bids farewell to Clinical Director, Dr Niki Cooper

Niki Cooper has been at Place2Be for over two decades. Here, she reflects on her 22 years with the charity.

Read more