CAMHS – facts and figures

The figures included in this webpage were last updated 2018-2019. Updated information will be available in 2022.

At least one in eight children and young people have a diagnosable mental health condition

Between five and 10 years old, the split between girls and boys is just about even. But by 17, a quarter of young women have a mental health disorder, more than twice the number of young men. Half of them have self-harmed or attempted to take their own life.

Over half of all mental ill health disorders start before the age of 14, with 75 per cent by 24 years of age.

Emotional disorders, particularly anxiety and depression, are on the rise. We are just beginning to understand how the increasing prevalence of social media is negatively impacting young people’s emotional health.

Although no one is immune from poor mental health some children are more likely to need help than others

Children and young people are more likely to have poor mental health if they experience some form of adversity, such as living in poverty, parental separation or financial crisis, where there is a problem with the way their family functions or whose parents already have poor mental health.

Young people who identify as LGBQT are also more likely to suffer from a mental health condition.

Looked after children are four times more likely to experience mental health issues than their peers.

A third of people in the youth justice system are estimated to have a mental health problem.

Nearly three quarters of children with a mental health condition also have a physical health condition or developmental problem.

Demand has gone up...

Nearly 19,000 children were admitted to hospital after harming themselves in 2015 – a 14 per cent rise over three years.

Between 2013/14 and 2014/15, referral rates increased five times faster than the CAMHS workforce.

The average waiting time for children and young people to access mental health services ranges from 14 to 200 days.

Once through the referral process and finally able to get specialist support, even young people with life-threatening conditions can wait more than 100 days before receiving any form of treatment.

...and funding has stagnated...

Only 6.7 per cent of mental health spending goes to children and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS).

Of the extra £1.7 billion pledged until the end of 2020 much still needs to be spent on the children that need it.

Government funding for the Early Intervention Grant has been cut by almost £500 million since 2013.

It is projected to drop by a further £183 million by 2020.

Public health funding, which funds school nurses and public mental health services, has been reduced by £600 million from 2015/16 to 2019/20.

...leaving services without capacity to support children and young people in need

Specialist services are turning away one in four of the children referred to them by their GPs or teachers for treatment.  

More than 338,000 children were referred to CAMHS in 2017, but less than a third received treatment within the year.

Around 75 per cent of young people experiencing a mental health problem are forced to wait so long their condition gets worse or are unable to access any treatment at all.