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Mental health

Some of the most common mental disorders experienced by young people include anxiety disorders, mood disorders, behavioural disorders and eating disorders.  Mental health problems have important implications for all aspects of young people’s lives.

Among boys the likelihood of a disorder is highest at age 11-16.  Among girls, it is 17-19

Time trends in mental disorders

Chart 6.10 compares the time trend in mental disorders in the NHS Digital prevalence study for 5-10 year olds and 11-15 year olds from 1999 to 2017, for comparison (Sadler et al, 2018). The absolute rise in 11-15 year olds was small; a couple of percentage points. Expressed as a proportion increase over the 1999 rates, however, the rise was 19% for 11-15 year olds compared with 13% for the younger children. Time trend data were not available for 16-19 year olds.

Mental health problems have risen in 11-15 year olds

The increase was mostly in rates of anxiety and depression, from 4.5% to 7.1% from 1999 to 2017 in 11-15 year olds (Sadler et al, 2018). Behaviour problems fell across this time period for this age group.

Scottish data for schoolchildren aged 13 and 15 from SALSUS from 2006 to 2018 also showed an overall rise in mental health problems in this age group, from 11% with an ‘abnormal’ score in 2006, to 20% in 2018 (Scottish Government, 2020a).

Trend data for the 16-24 year age group from 2009/10 to 2014/15 in England were available from the Adult Psychiatric Morbidity Survey (McManus et al, 2016) . These are shown in Chart 6.11. There was an increase of nearly 3% in the prevalence of disorders in women in this age group across these five years, but no increase for men.

Signs of depression or anxiety have risen in 16-24 year olds in the UK

All data correct as of 1st November 2021