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NHS warning over worsening mental health of Hampshire young people



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MEDICAL experts have warned that poor mental health of young people across Hampshire is spiralling.

The situation was laid out in an NHS report from the Hampshire, Southampton and Isle of Wight Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), writes David George of the Local Democracy Reporting Service.

It suggested that 34,120 children in the south-east have a probable mental health disorder – accounting for roughly 17.4% of all youngsters in the region.

Poor mental health among youngsters is spiralling, an NHS report has said
Poor mental health among youngsters is spiralling, an NHS report has said

In 2020, one in six (16%) children aged 5-16 years were identified as having a probable mental disorder, increasing from one in nine (10.8%) in 2017.

The amount of self-harming is also on the rise, and the CCG noted a sharp rise in the number of children with eating disorders.

Speaking to Hampshire County Council’s health and wellbeing board, Ciara Rogers, senior operational lead at the CCG, warned that the situation could get even worse.

She said: "Child mental health needs have certainly increased – nationally it’s about one in six children. We are yet to see the impact of Covid-19, but do expect the demand to increase even further.

"For us it’s the eating disorder pathway that has seen a huge spike in cases.

"We’ve doubled the size of the eating disorder team to try and keep up with the demand, and are still recruiting more specialist therapists."

Between 2019/20 and 2020/21, the number of eating disorder cases in children rose by 52%.

In terms of self-harm, it is estimated that 10% of 15 to 16-year-olds self-harm, with rates higher for girls than boys, and even higher still for transgender and non-binary young people.

The CCG has published an action plan to boost services and clear the thousands of young people still on waiting lists.

Included on that action plan was the launch of Kooth.com, a digital counselling service for children and young people.

The service has already supported more than 2,000 young people, with many children preferring it to face-to-face appointments.

Ms Rogers said: "We have increased the number of appointments by 2,500 to try and clear the waiting list by February.

"Overall waiting lists have come down by 30-40%, despite increased referrals. The waiting list for treatment has also been reduced by 13%.

"Our focus on early intervention and prevention is really important.

"We’ve agreed a programme across child social care and public health to ensure we have the most impact possible."



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