Friday 6 December 2019

Surge in numbers of children diagnosed with mental conditions in UK

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The number of children being diagnosed with a psychiatric condition in A&E departments has more than doubled in the space of five years as instances of intentional self-harm have also surged.

In 2010/11 there were just shy of 7,000 occasions when patients under the age of 18 went to A&E and were given a first diagnosis of having a psychiatric condition.

But that figure has grown every year since, peaking at almost 15,000 in 2014/15.

Meanwhile, the number of patients under the age of 18 who have been identified in A&E as having intentionally self-harmed has also grown.

In 2010/11 the number was 13,504 but in 2014/15 it was 17,019.

Norman Lamb, the Liberal Democrat former health minister who asked the written parliamentary question which prompted the publication of the figures, described them as "deeply shocking".

He said: "The Government is failing to support children and young people by not delivering the investment that was agreed before the general election.

"In March 2015, Nick Clegg and I announced £1.25 billion to be spent over five years on improving young people's mental health services, but the Government has already underspent by £107 million in the first year.

"This is unacceptable, and these latest figures show the need for urgent investment in preventative services and community care to stop young people from reaching crisis point."

Mr Lamb also said the statistics show there is an "absolute need to introduce the same right to get treatment on a timely basis for children and young people suffering mental ill health as others enjoy".

He said: "I am calling on the Government to make up the shortfall immediately, and to deliver on its promise to provide the full £1.25bn over the next five years."

The number of trips to A&E where a patient under the age of 18 was given a first diagnosis of a psychiatric condition and where they were identified as having intentionally self-harmed rose from 1,098 in 2010/11 to 2,313 in 2014/15.

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