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UK failing to meet children's mental health and wellbeing needs

A public opinion poll published by The Children's Society reveals mounting concern about children's mental health and wellbeing.

In a survey by The Children's Society of 8,000 14-16 year olds, part of its ongoing Good Childhood® Inquiry, 27% of young people agreed with the statement "I often feel depressed".

In a separate online vote, conducted by CBBC Newsround, 78% of those who voted said they felt fine, good or really good about their health; however a worrying 22% felt bad or really bad. Many also said they felt under pressure to look good, with seven out of 10 admitting they dieted some or all of the time.

A number of children commented on the importance of being free from stress, pressure and worry. In some cases they explicitly linked pressure to school, the influence of peers, bullying, family expectations and their looks.

Considering the issue of how to promote better mental health and wellbeing for children, Professor Stephen Scott, Institute of Psychiatry and an Inquiry panel member said: "Many respondents to the Inquiry shared the belief that wellbeing depends on good relationships, especially within the family; on a sense of purpose and on freedom.

"To achieve this, child mental health and wellbeing must be everybody's business. Support for parents is crucial; schooling has a key part to play; and providing the effective treatments now available for children with mental health problems takes time, skill and resources."

Many of the submissions expressed concern about the impact that poverty and social disadvantage has on mental health and wellbeing. Refugee children, children in trouble with the law, children with disabilities and children at risk on the streets, with whom The Children's Society works on a daily basis, are among those most affected by these issues.

Bob Reitemeier, chief executive of The Children's Society said: "There is a growing recognition of the true cost of neglecting children's mental health and wellbeing. Too often mental health and wellbeing have been dismissed as being of little importance but there is now an understanding that if we want to give children a better childhood these matters must be addressed. We now need to translate this growing concern into action and investment in the necessary support services."

The Good Childhood Inquiry

The Children's Society

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