Children's mental health needs
Supporting the wellbeing of our children and young people is in all of our best interests, particularly as we emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic. This interest in child and young person wellbeing must come from everyone: nurses, health and social care services, government, schools and colleges, parents and families, communities and employers. All parties have to reflect and build upon current provision as they strive to deliver better wellbeing outcomes for all of our children and young people.
Supporting the wellbeing of children and young people has been a focus for nurses for many decades. The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has emphasised the significance of providing this support, which is key as plans are made for recovery.
The number of children referred by their GP or teacher, for example, to NHS children's mental health services has, for the first time in 4 years, decreased. A referral was made, in 2020/2021, for 497 502 children, this is a decrease from 539 000 the previous year (Children's Commissioner, 2022). This decrease could be attributed to disruptions in service provision due to the pandemic. Since 2017, more children have been struggling with their mental health (this covers the pandemic period). One in six children now has a possible mental health disorder, which is an increase from one in nine children in 2017 (Children's Commissioner, 2022).
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