The results from the latest Mental Health of Children and Young People (MHCYP) survey have been released through NHS digital. By surveying a sub-group of children and young people (CYP) who took part in the 2017 survey, not only does it look to capture a general picture of mental health amongst CYP (aged between 5 and 22 years) but it also compares this with the results of the 2017 survey. This year the survey also sought to examine the specific impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
- The results indicate a rise in the number of CYP meeting the criteria to be identified with a probable disorder (as opposed to possible disorder or unlikely to have a disorder).
- The Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ) that provides this classification is not a diagnostic measure which is why the terms probable, possible and unlikely are used, however, between 81-91% of young people identified as having a probable disorder would likely meet the criteria for a clinical diagnosis. The research behind this figure can be viewed in the journal European Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.
- Across all the age groups, there had been at least a 5% increase in the numbers of children and young people aged between 5 to 16 years old meeting this threshold. This would translate to around 4 to 5 in every class of 30.
- Some CYP who took part in the 2017 survey had moved into late adolescence and early adulthood (17 to 22 years old) and so data for this age group was reported for the first time. It was here that there was the largest proportion of significant needs with 20% young people identified with a probable disorder.
The Pandemic Anxiety Scale (PAS) gave one measure of the impact of the pandemic on CYP mental health. The survey showed that:
- CYP (between 11-16 years old) with a probable disorder, reported greater anxiety related to the pandemic (such as loved ones catching the disease) and their scores were around 20% higher than those CYP who were unlikely to have a disorder.
- Those with a probable disorder were also, at the time of the survey, less likely to be physically attending school despite it being open, with almost one in five in this group (aged 5-16 years old) remaining absent from school.
- This meant they may be less likely to access social support, (almost one in four of this group were reported to not have access to at least one friend for support) but may also have been missing out on learning.
- Whilst some CYP identified as having a probable disorder, may have received remote teaching, this group was identified as being less likely to have access to resources to support learning at home.
- Falling behind in work may compound some of the anxieties that this group may have already had. Of the specific worries relating to the pandemic, missing school/work was second only to worries that family and friends may catch COVID-19.