Mental Health Awareness Week is a fitting moment to examine the incidence of mental health disorders among children. But beware: the figures are scary
Data on mental health was collected by the NHS in 1999, 2004 and 2017 and, perhaps unsurprisingly, the number of children with mental health disorders continues to rise.
In a typical primary school classroom, 6.6% of girls and 12.2% of boys will have at least one diagnosable mental health disorder. In a class of 30 primary school children, the figure is 9, or just under three children.
The numbers of children suffering with their mental health varies depending on their location and their family’s income.
Children from low-income families are more likely to experience poor mental health than their peers from wealthier homes. Children living in the East of England or the South West of England are 6% more likely to have at least one diagnosable mental health disorder than children in London.
We can expect that a group of 30 children in London has just under three children struggling with their mental health. However, in the same size class of children in the East of England, there will be close to five children in the same situation.
The NHS found that high self-esteem was five times more common in young people without a disorder than in those with a disorder: self-esteem is closely linked to anxiety and poor body image.
Perhaps most worryingly, 20.7% of children who needed help with their mental health had to wait more than six months to see a mental health specialist.
In its January 2019 report, the government identified the role educators have to play in promoting mental wellbeing.
To help teachers, we have come up with 10 ways to create mentally healthy schools. As parents, you may want to identify how many of these techniques are being used in your child’s school.