Understanding the mental health landscape in England

Research shows that at any given time, 1 in 6 people aged 16 to 64 in England will be experiencing a common mental health problem.

That means that it is very likely we each know someone with a mental health condition – whether it is a family member, colleague, pupil or friend.

Children and young people’s mental health in England

Mental ill health does not just affect adults in England. Information from NHS England tells us that 1 in 8 five to 19-year-olds had at least one ‘mental disorder’ when assessed in 2017. NHS England splits these disorders into four broad categories – emotional, behavioural, hyperactivity and other less common disorders.

Emotional disorders were the most prevalent type of disorder experienced by five to 19-year-olds.

Emotional disorders include:

  • anxiety disorders (characterised by fear and worry)
  • depressive disorders (characterised by sadness, loss of interest and energy, and low self-esteem)
  • mania and bipolar affective disorder

The likelihood of experiencing a mental health disorder increases with age. Among primary school children, 1 in 10 five to 10-year-olds had a mental disorder when assessed in 2017, with boys about as twice as likely to be experiencing a mental disorder than girls.

In 11 to 16 year olds, 1 in 7 had a disorder, which increases to 1 in 6 in young people aged 17 to 19. In the 11 to 16 age group, girls and boys were equally likely to experience a mental disorder, while in the oldest age group, girls are more than twice as likely to experience a disorder than boys.

Children and young people's mental health and schools

Children and young people with mental health conditions are more likely to find school difficult. For example, children and young people with a mental health condition are 8.5% more likely to refuse school than those without a mental health condition.

In England, 6.8% of children and young people with a mental disorder have been excluded from school, compared to 0.5% of those without. It is estimated that one in two pupils in alternative provision settings have a mental health need.

Resources

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Talk to FRANK directory

Talk to FRANK directory

Find details of local and national services that provide counselling and treatment in England.

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Supporting resources for whole-school framework
Primary

Supporting resources for whole-school framework

This set of resources complements the whole school framework for emotional wellbeing and mental...

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  • National Children's Bureau

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Whole-school framework for mental health
Primary

Whole-school framework for mental health

A whole-school framework for emotional wellbeing and mental health: a self-assessment and...

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  • National Children's Bureau

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Getting to know me - worksheet for ages 4 to 7
Primary

Getting to know me - worksheet for ages 4 to 7

Use this “Getting to know me” activity with your primary school class at the start of the school...

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