Nearly 500,000 children have no-one to talk to when sad, survey finds

Posted on: 2018-10-09 23:00:00

Nearly half-a-million children have no-one to talk to if they feel worried or sad, a survey has found.

Almost two in five (38 per cent) of the 1,300 children polled by YouGov said their negative feelings caused them difficulty with going to sleep, while more than a quarter said it caused them to struggle with their homework.

The respondents aged between 10 and 15 were asked about how feeling “worried or sad” had affected their wellbeing and behaviour.

More than a quarter (27 per cent) said they got into fights or arguments and the same proportion said they did not want to be around others, the survey conducted on behalf of the Mental Health Foundation (MHF) charity found.

In total, one in 10 children (11 per cent) said they feel they have no-one to talk to, or would not talk to anyone in school, if they felt worried or sad.

Using figures from the Office for National Statistics, the MHF estimated that this percentage equates to 476,066 children aged between 10 and 15 in the UK.

The findings come as the charity launches a new campaign on World Mental Health Day to prevent a growing crisis in children’s mental health and to ensure the topic is prioritised in classrooms.

It has been launched just after a National Audit Office report ruled that there is a “long way to go” before the Government achieves equal access to physical and mental health services for children.

The report concludes that even if current plans to spend £1.4bn on the sector were delivered, there would still be "significant unmet need" for mental health care among young people.

Dr Antonis Kousoulis, associate director at MHF, said: “Nearly half a million children in the country have no one to speak to at school when they are experiencing feelings of sadness or worry. That is plainly unacceptable.”

He added: "We know there are many schools that are doing excellent things in this area, often in difficult circumstances, but this needs to keep improving and be consistent in all schools. If we are not tackling mental health problems early, then we risk failing the next generation right at the start of their lives."

recent report from the Education Policy Institute (EPI) also found that the number of children referred to mental health services in England had risen by more than a quarter in the last five years.

But at least 55,800 children were denied access to child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS) in England despite being referred last year amid cuts to services.

Nick Gibb, school standards minister, said: "Being able to identify mental health problems early and making sure children and young people have the right support when they need it is imperative. That is why, through green paper proposals, we will provide significant additional resources for early mental health intervention for all schools – primary and secondary.  

“We have also committed to ensuring all children and young people learn about mental wellbeing through the introduction of compulsory Relationships, Sex and Health Education in all schools. For the first time every child will be taught about good mental and physical health, the important links between the two, how to be safe on and offline, and the importance of healthy relationships.”

Eleanor Busby
Education Correspondent

Source: Independent

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