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Health Inequalities

Health outcomes

In this section we provide a unique collection of data illustrating the differences that young people aged 10-24 can experience in their physical and mental health outcomes. 

In 2021 there was a 16.6% gap between obesity rates in 10/11 year olds in the least and most deprived areas

Mental health

For 11-16 year olds before the pandemic, in 2017, the national Child and Adolescent Mental Health prevalence study suggested a clear association between living in an area of deprivation and higher likelihood of mental health problems in this age group. The trend line in Chart HO12 demonstrates this association.

Analysis of data from the Health Behaviour in School-aged Children studies in European countries has found that for young people aged 11-15 there was a strong association between family affluence and mental health (Weinberg, D. et al 2020). 

Chart HO12: In 2017 there was a tendency for 11-16 year olds in areas of most deprivation to have more mental health problems

By the time the study was replicated in 2020, in the middle of the Covid-19 pandemic lockdowns, levels of probable mental health problems in this age group had risen, and the association with deprivation was unclear. The trend line is plotted for all 11-16 year olds, and demonstrates an association but one that is less clear than it was in 2017. In fact, this is being driven by trends for the boys, where the relationship with deprivation seemed to have disappeared (or even reversed) since 2017. It remains to be seen what happens as the immediate effects of the pandemic begin to pass.

Chart HO13: By 2020, when levels of mental health problems were higher, the association with deprivation was less clear

The best measure of population level mental health problems for 16-24 year olds is the National Adult Psychiatric Morbidity Survey, but although this gives levels of mental health problems by deprivation, it does not break these data down into age bands.

Local data analysis in NHS Midlands and Lancashire has found that young people from deprived backgrounds are more likely to have a mental health referral deemed as “unsuitable”, have shorter contact time within a mental health appointment and are more likely to be re-referred to mental health services within a year despite completing their treatment plans (NHS Midlands and Lancashire Support Unit, 2021).


All data correct as of 1st May 2022