New report looks at the mental health of children in London

More than 110,000 children in London are suffering with significant mental ill health according to new PHE report.

More than 110,000 children in London, or around one in 10, suffer with significant mental ill health according to a new report from Public Health England (PHE). The report has been published to support commissioners to take action in improving the mental health of children and young people (CYP).

The report also reveals that just 1 in 4 (25%) children across the country who need treatment for mental ill health receive it.

The report also found:

  • nearly 40,000 children suffer with anxiety
  • over 10,000 children experience depression
  • just under 19,000 children are diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
  • over 68,000 children have conduct disorder (a serious behavioural and emotional disorder)

In response, PHE is supporting work with the Healthy London Partnership to:

  • reduce suicide and improve children and young people’s mental health care
  • develop a London-wide vision and approach to help make the capital the world’s healthiest city
  • improve care for children and young people experiencing mental health crisis

PHE also recently produced a mental health toolkit for schools and colleges, in partnership with the Anna Freud Centre and is working closely with NHS England, Department of Health and Department for Education to deliver the national ambitions for child mental public health set out in Future in Mind.

Analysing the mental health of CYP in London and describing the case for improvements to mental health services can significantly improve health outcomes for this group. In 2014 and 2015, more than 1,800 children in London were admitted to hospital for mental ill health.

In addition to mental ill health, many young people in London report low life satisfaction. In 2014 and 2015, 16% of 15 year olds in London reported low life satisfaction, which is 1 in every 6. There are wide variations in life satisfaction across London boroughs. Factors such as deprivation, gender (girls are more likely to report low life satisfaction), ethnicity and sexual orientation can all impact on life satisfaction among CYP.

The report shows that mental ill health is a leading cause of health related disabilities in CYP and can have adverse and long lasting effects.

Children who experience mental ill health are more likely to smoke and struggle with alcohol and drug misuse. They are also at increased risk of poor physical health, lower educational attainment, decreased employment prospects and difficulty establishing social relationships. Evidence shows that early intervention and access to mental health services can help young people avoid falling into crisis and prevent longer term interventions in adulthood.

PHE’s aim, as part of our mission to protect and improve the nation’s health and address inequalities, is working to help the public health system achieve ‘public health parity’ for mental health.

Dr Marilena Korkodilos, a paediatrician and child health lead for PHELondon, said:

Children’s and young people’s mental health is a real issue for London, and this report shows that we all need to do more. We are working with the city’s leaders and the NHS to develop a citywide vision and approach to help make London the world’s healthiest city. Alongside the Healthy London Partnership we are supporting both work to reduce suicide and improve children and young people’s mental health care.

Dr Marc Bush, Chief Policy Advisor at YoungMinds, said:

Public health and local authorities are vital partners in supporting children’s mental health, and we welcome this new report.

Children in London face a huge range of pressures, including stress at school, body image worries, bullying, around-the-clock social media and uncertain job prospects – and it can be extremely difficult for them to get help when they’re struggling to cope.

This report is an important contribution to the mounting evidence demonstrating that early intervention is crucial. Help needs to be available for young people when problems first emerge, and health professionals need the skills and confidence to offer the best possible support.

Other important findings in the report include:

  • 50% of those with a lifetime mental illness (excluding dementia) will experience symptoms by the age of 14
  • 10% of children aged 5 to 16 suffer from a clinically significant mental health illness
  • maternal depression is associated with a fivefold increased risk of mental ill health in the child
  • 60% of looked after children have some form of emotional or mental ill health
  • there is a 50% increased risk of mortality in people who are depressed
  • people who suffer with mental ill health, such as schizophrenia or bipolar disorder, die on average 16 to 25 years sooner than the general population


  1. Public Health England exists to protect and improve the nation’s health and wellbeing, and reduce health inequalities. It does this through world-class science, knowledge and intelligence, advocacy, partnerships and the delivery of specialist public health services. PHE is an operationally autonomous executive agency of the Department of Health. Follow us on Twitter: @PHE_uk and Facebook:
  2. Read The mental health of children and young people in London report.
  3. Read The mental health of children and young people in England report.
  4. London rates are higher for low life satisfaction among 15 year olds than the England average, which is 14%.
  5. In 2014 to 2015, 10,132 children in England were admitted to hospital for a mental ill health. This equates to 1 in every 1,200 children.
  6. The Healthy London Partnership works across health and social care, and with the Greater London Authority, Public Health England, NHS England, London’s councils, clinical commissioning groups, and Health Education England. The Partnership works to amplify the efforts of a growing community of people and organisations that believe it is possible to achieve a healthier, more livable global city by 2020.
  7. The Anne Freud Centre works to improve the lives of thousands of children and young people with mental health problems. PHE and Anne Freud Centre provide a mental health toolkit for schools.
  8. The Future in Mind report has been published to promote, protect and improve the mental health and wellbeing of children and young people and sets out important proposals to achieve this.

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