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The Current State Of Children’s Mental Health : A Snapshot


We have seen that childhood trauma can lead to very serious mental health problems, but what is the overall state of children”s mental health today? Below, I provide an overview:

– In the United Kingdom, the British Medical Association suggests that approximately 1 in 5 children will be suffering from a mental health condition in any given year

–   In the previous thirty years in the UK, behavioural problems (such as conduct disorders) in children have increased by 100%, whist emotional problems (such as anxiety) have increased by around 70%.

About 5℅ of children in the UK suffer from a conduct disorder, whilst about 3℅ suffer from an emotional disorder

–  According to the American Psychological Association, 1 in 5 teens suffers from a mental health condition

– The World Health Organization (WHO) predicts that by 2020 children’s mental health conditions will be up by 50% more than other conditions affecting their health and will be in the top five causes of childhood disability and death.


Other Associated Problems:

Other prevalent psychological problems continuing to affect the young include substance abuse, eating disorders, self-harm, suicide/suicide attempts, anti -social behaviour and problems with impulse-control leading to crime.

Developmental Disorders :

ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) is a condition that affects children by causing them problems with controlling their behaviour and maintaining their concentration on a task/activity

Approximately one in ten children in the U.S. are thought to suffer from this disorder

Autistic Spectrum Disorders (ASD):

This condition affects children’s ability to relate to the world and to communicate with others. It can range in severity from High Functioning Asperger’s Syndrome at one end of the scale to profound autism at the most serious end of the spectrum (or anything between these two extremes, hence the term spectrum disorder).

Those with High Functioning Asperger’s may excel academically but have very poor social skills / low understanding of social ‘rules’ and how to interact socially.

Those with profound autism are almost completely unable to communicate with the world at all

ASD Statistics:

In the U.S. in the 1980s only 1 in 50,000 children were diagnosed as having an ASD.

By 2004, this figure staggeringly increased to 1 in 166 children.

One likely reason for this dramatic increase is due to the fact that the medical profession has improved its ability to diagnose the disorder.

However, it has also been argued that children’s behavior is being over and inappropriately pathologized, especially given the fact that the number of children being diagnosed with an ASD is increasing at a rate of about 25% per year.

Effects Of Parental Divorce And Unemployment On Childhood Mental Health:

Lone Parents:

16℅ of children in lone patent families suffer from a mental health condition.

8℅ of children who live with 2 parents suffer from a mental health condition.

Unemployed Parents:

20℅ of children who live in a family in which neither parent works suffer from a mental health condition

8% of children who live in a family in which both parents work suffer from a mental health problem.

Girls v Boys:

Age group 5 to 10 years 

10.2℅ of boys have a mental health condition.

5.1℅ of girls have a mental health condition

Age group 10 to 16 years

12.6℅ of boys have a mental health condition

10.3℅ of girls have a mental health condition.


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David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE)




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