Tots as young as TWO suffer mental health problems – with 1 in 8 kids at risk, NHS warns

There's been an increase in mental disorders among five to 15-year-olds, while one in 18 preschool kids have at least one mental health problem.

One in 40 kids aged 2-4-years old have a behavioural disorder.

The report, Mental Health of Children and Young People in England, 2017, was published today by NHS Digital and looked at information on 9,117 children and young people.

It's the first time that children as young as two have been included in such studies.

Mental disorders were grouped into four categories – emotional, behavioural, hyperactivity and other less common disorders.

For five to 15-year-olds, the overall prevalence of mental disorder has increased from 9.7 per cent in 1999 to 12.8 per cent in 2017.

One in six 17-19-year-olds were found to have a mental health issue, with one in 16 suffering from more than one disorder at the time of being interviewed.

Older girls were more than twice as likely as boys of the same age to have a mental disorder, having higher rates of emotional disorder (22.4 per cent) and self-harm than any other group.

5.6 per cent of girls aged 17-19 said they had body dysmorphic disorder, an anxiety disorder characterised by the obsessive idea that some aspect of their body or appearance is severely flawed and warrants exceptional measures to hide or fix.

A third of young people aged 14-19 who identified as LGBTQ had a mental disorder, compared to 13.2 per cent of heterosexual teens.

Nearly half (46.8 per cent) of 17-19-year-olds with a mental disorder had self-harmed or made a suicide attempt.

Every 90 minutes, someone kills themselves in the UK – with suicide being the biggest killer of people under the age of 35.

Men are three times more likely than women to take their own lives.

Both of those are really alarming statistics, which is why The Sun has launched the You're Not Alone campaign, in a bid to get more people talking about mental health.

Denise Hatton, chief executive of YMCA England & Wales, described the figures as a "wake-up call".


It doesn't discriminate, touching the lives of people in every corner of society – from the homeless and unemployed to builders and doctors, reality stars and footballers.

It's the biggest killer of people under the age of 35, more deadly than cancer and car crashes. And men are three times more likely to take their own life than women.

Yet, it's rarely spoken of, a taboo that threatens to continue its deadly rampage unless we all stop and take notice, now.

That is why The Sun has launched the You're Not Alone campaign. To remind anyone facing a tough time, grappling with mental illness or feeling like there's nowhere left to turn, that there is hope.

To mark World Suicide Prevention Day, over the course of this week, we will tell you the stories of brave survivors, relatives left behind, heroic Good Samaritans – and share tips from mental health experts.

The aim is that by sharing practical advice, raising awareness and breaking down the barriers people face when talking about their mental health, we can all do our bit to help save lives.

Let's all vow to ask for help when we need it, and listen out for others. You're Not Alone.

For a list of support services available, please see the Where To Get Help box below.

She said: "These figures are shocking and while progress has been made to normalise conversations about mental health and successive governments have made additional funding for NHS services available, today's figures are a wake-up call that this clearly hasn't gone far enough.

"To end this crisis that is ruining young lives, it's crucial that action and investment goes into preventing young people from experiencing poor mental health in the first place.

"From preventative youth and community services, to education in schools, mental health must be incorporated in every aspect of daily life to stop young people from reaching crisis point.

"Without preventative services and with the NHS struggling to cope, too many young people are still left alone to deal with their mental health difficulties by themselves, leading to a vicious circle of solitude and suffering."


If you, or anyone you know, needs help dealing with mental health problems, the following organisations provide support:

  • CALM,, 0800 585 858
  • Heads Together,
  • Mind,, 0300 123 3393
  • Papyrus,, 0800 068 41 41
  • Samaritans,, 116 123
  • YoungMinds,, 0808 802 5544

Lily Makurah, national lead for mental health at Public Health England, said: "It's concerning to see children and young people facing mental health challenges.

"We know mental health influences children's ability to cope with the normal stresses of life, to learn productively, to develop positive relationships and to make a contribution to our community.

"We're working with partners to minimise risks for children and young people and enhance factors that promote and protect positive mental health at key stages across a child's life."

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