Children’s mental health in the UK has become a significant concern, with a notable increase in mental health problems among children and young people over recent years. According to The Children’s Society, in the last three years, the likelihood of young people having a mental health problem has increased by 50%, and now, five children in a classroom of 30 are likely to have a mental health problem. This rise in mental health issues among young people has led to an increased demand for mental health support, although access to such services remains a challenge (The  Children’s Society).

YoungMinds highlights that one in six children aged five to 16 were identified as having a probable mental health problem as of July 2020. The connection between adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) and mental health problems in adulthood is significant, with one-third of adult mental health problems directly connected to ACEs. Unfortunately, just over one in three children and young people with a diagnosable mental health condition get access to NHS care and treatment (Young Mind)

The NHS England Digital’s 2022 survey found that 18.0% of children aged 7 to 16 years and 22.0% of young people aged 17 to 24 years had a probable mental disorder. This represents a significant increase from 2017, highlighting the growing need for mental health support among young people in England (NHS England Digital)

The Health Foundation reported that the proportion of 6 to 16-year-olds with a probable mental health condition increased from one in nine (11.6%) to one in six (17.4%) between 2017 and 2021. This rise in prevalence corresponds to approximately 500,000 additional children and young people experiencing mental health problems, necessitating increased support from Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CYPMHS) or other services (The Health Foundation)​.

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, which exacerbated mental health issues among children, the UK government allocated £79 million to accelerate previous plans to improve children’s wellbeing and mental healthcare provision. However, stakeholders have argued that these measures may not be sufficient to meet the growing needs and have called for more robust and integrated policies, better resources and staffing for mental health services, expansion of early support services, and high-quality research to inform policy and interventions (Post).

These findings and governmental responses indicate a critical need for comprehensive strategies to address children’s mental health in the UK, focusing on early intervention, access to services, and consideration of the wider determinants of mental health.