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Tuesday 22nd May 2018

Child mental disorders soar

30th June 2006

The number of children with certain types of mental health disorders has more than doubled in the past 30 years, with a million experiencing problems at any one time in England, doctors' leaders warned yesterday.

Around one in 10 children will experience a clinically recognised mental health disorder between the ages of one and 15, says the report by the British Medical Association's board of science.

Factors such as the decline of the family, alcohol abuse and diet are cited as potential causes of the rise.

The report, Child and Adolescent Mental Health, reveals that 9.6 per cent of children aged between five and 16 experience some kind of mental health disorder such as eating, emotional or behavioural problems. The study finds that in the 11-16 age group, 12.6 per cent of boys and 10 per cent of girls suffer from a mental disorder.

Launching the publication, the child psychiatrist David Skuse said there had been "a convincing increase" in conduct disorders (extreme behaviour such as bullying and fighting), which usually affects boys, and in emotional disorders (including phobias and depression), which are more prevalent in girls.

The report notes that poorer children, asylum-seeker youngsters, those in care and those who had seen domestic violence were particularly susceptible to mental health problems, but, said Prof Skuse, the rise in emotional and conduct disorders had occurred "across the board".

The BMA board called for adequate backing for child and adolescent mental health teams and improved services for children in care. Sir Charles George, chair of the board, said that only about a third of children excluded from school were referred to mental health specialists.

A Department of Health spokeswoman said that from 2002 to 2005 the number of child mental health cases seen had risen by more than 40 per cent.


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