Emergency mental health referrals for young people hit record high, data reveals

·2 min read

The number of young people being referred to emergency mental health services has hit new a record high, fresh figures have revealed.

The data, collected by the NHS and reviewed by charity YoungMinds, show that 982 under-18s were referred to crisis care teams in May 2022 – the highest figure since before the Covid-19 pandemic.

According to the mental health charity, the figure also marks a shocking increase of 37 per cent on the previous month, which it says highlights how many young people are struggling to access timely support.

Meanwhile, open referrals to children and young people’s mental health services for the month of May reached a record-breaking 457,387, far surpassing the previous high documented in March 2022.

This comes after recent data from YoungMinds revealed just over a quarter (26 per cent) of young people said they had tried to take their own life as a result of having to wait for mental health support.

YoungMinds is campaigning for the government to end the crisis in young people’s mental health and prioritise their concerns in the upcoming 10-year mental health plan.

Olly Parker, head of external affairs at YoungMinds, said: “These numbers paint a shocking picture of the situation young people in this country face when it comes to their mental health.

“For years, politicians have promised that they will get a grip of the crisis in young people’s mental health, including a recent commitment to a ten year plan.

“But the reality is that month after month we are seeing devastating new records of young people struggling to get treatment and support for their mental health, and month after month we are left waiting for the government to take action and end this intensifying crisis.

“We urgently need to see a reversal in climbing waiting lists and record referrals figures. The government must urgently equip the NHS to deal with the immediate pressures services face.

“But they must also make sure they keep their promise in delivering a mental health plan that has a real focus on young people and sets clear goals, across the whole of government, for addressing this crisis.”

If you are experiencing feelings of distress and isolation, or are struggling to cope, The Samaritans offers support; you can speak to someone for free over the phone, in confidence, on 116 123 (UK and ROI), email jo@samaritans.org, or visit the Samaritans website to find details of your nearest branch.

People can also contact Mind via Infoline, which provides over-the-phone information on mental health problems, treatment options and advocacy services, on 0300 123 3393.

And if you’re under 19, you can call 0800 1111, chat online or email Childline about any problem big or small. You can also sign up for a free Childline locker (real name or email address not needed) to use their free 1-2-1 counsellor chat and email support service.