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More students than ever suffer mental ill health. We must change our toxic world | Nihara Krause

Yesterday’s report by the Institute for Public Policy Research revealed how the number of students disclosing a mental illness when they arrive at university has risen almost fivefold in the past decade. Left untreated, mental ill health problems grow, with students more likely to drop out of university, and there is also an increase in alcohol and drug misuse, self-harm and vulnerability to suicide.

This is a reflection of the substantial increase in the number of children receiving care for their mental health. This is a good thing. Data covering 60% of NHS mental health trusts revealed staggering figures: about a quarter of a million children were receiving mental health care in England. There were 11,849 boys and girls aged five and under receiving help, while 235,000 children and young people under the age of 18 were receiving specialist care.

But the figures also speak to a wider truth: there is no doubt that children and young people are now in environments that make mental health worse. In March, stem4, the teenage mental health charity I founded and am chief executive of, published the results of a survey of 500 12- to 16-year-olds. It revealed a number of anxieties, including exam worries (41%), work overload (31%), friendship concerns (28%), lack of confidence (26%), concerns over body image (26%) and feelings of being overwhelmed (25%). While anxiety may long have been part and parcel of the changes encountered in adolescence, where you feature in the academic and social hierarchy and performance worries are more of a modern-day phenomenon.

One statistic from this survey stood out for me: one in 10 teenagers reported strong feelings of anxiety over current world affairs. This is confirmation of the many reports I have from students I meet through the charity and in my clinical work. The world’s instability and unpredictability – in relation to terrorism, Brexit or the Trump leadership and ensuing world issues – have left children and young people scared and bewildered. In a world of having to constantly focus on success, competition, perfection and uncertainty, they are scared about the decisions that adults around them take and the legacy of these decisions. The Children’s Society’s The Good Childhood Report 2017, released last month, confirms this. Among its key findings were that young people’s happiness is at its lowest since 2010 and that fear of crime was the most common problem, affecting 2.2 million 10- to 17-year-olds, with one in three teenage girls afraid of being followed by a stranger and one in four boys worried about being assaulted.

The feeling of insecurity in children and young people is intensified by the number of adults suffering from mental ill health. One in four adults in England experience a mental health problem while one in five mothers have anxiety or depression during pregnancy or during the first year after childbirth. It is estimated that nearly two million adults were in contact with specialist mental health services at some point in 2014-15, but that probably represents 20% of the people who needed help.

It is not surprising that children and young people are experiencing increasing problems with their mental health. Many have continuous, low-grade levels of anxiety and fearfulness. They face challenging, high expectations when it comes to schoolwork and friendships. Furthermore, they experience a range of adversities, including family financial difficulties, family breakdown, homelessness and emotional neglect.

The Good Childhood Report confirms that one million 10- to 17-year-olds (18%) have seven or more serious problems in their lives (such as a fear of crime, domestic violence and bereavement), while more than half (53%) have three or more problems to deal with. Meanwhile, they look on a world where their parents and elders are vulnerable, their friends are often troubled and the geopolitical situation is unpredictable, hard to comprehend and sometimes terrifying.

With all this at stake, essential local authority mental health services for children and young people are being cut. This makes no sense. It has meant less funding for training and recruitment of specialist mental health professionals and, as a cheaper option, a drive to recruit non-specialists, who cannot offer the treatment needed for recovery. More effective signposting from schools is a positive, but there are fewer services to signpost children to. This is all the more frustrating since, as a clinician, I know there are many effective, evidence-based treatments available to help children and young people recover quickly and effectively.

At a time of transition from the safety of school and home to university, it is not surprising that so many students are presenting with increased anxiety and depression. If we are to stem the increase in mental ill health problems in young people we need to find ways to make them feel safe. They need prompt access to effective interventions delivered by qualified clinicians and mental health professionals that can alleviate their internal turbulence.

At the same time, we need to offer equally rapid support and effective intervention to the adults in their lives. At the level of society, we must take more steps to ensure that we are taking measures to ensure their continued safety in areas such as terrorism and world affairs and be open to listening and allaying fears they may have. Most of all, we need to reassure young people that decisions taken by adults will take their safety and wellbeing into consideration, now and in the future.

Nihara Krause is a consultant clinical psychologist

More students than ever suffer mental ill health. We must change our toxic world | Nihara Krause

Yesterday’s report by the Institute for Public Policy Research revealed how the number of students disclosing a mental illness when they arrive at university has risen almost fivefold in the past decade. Left untreated, mental ill health problems grow, with students more likely to drop out of university, and there is also an increase in alcohol and drug misuse, self-harm and vulnerability to suicide.

This is a reflection of the substantial increase in the number of children receiving care for their mental health. This is a good thing. Data covering 60% of NHS mental health trusts revealed staggering figures: about a quarter of a million children were receiving mental health care in England. There were 11,849 boys and girls aged five and under receiving help, while 235,000 children and young people under the age of 18 were receiving specialist care.

But the figures also speak to a wider truth: there is no doubt that children and young people are now in environments that make mental health worse. In March, stem4, the teenage mental health charity I founded and am chief executive of, published the results of a survey of 500 12- to 16-year-olds. It revealed a number of anxieties, including exam worries (41%), work overload (31%), friendship concerns (28%), lack of confidence (26%), concerns over body image (26%) and feelings of being overwhelmed (25%). While anxiety may long have been part and parcel of the changes encountered in adolescence, where you feature in the academic and social hierarchy and performance worries are more of a modern-day phenomenon.

One statistic from this survey stood out for me: one in 10 teenagers reported strong feelings of anxiety over current world affairs. This is confirmation of the many reports I have from students I meet through the charity and in my clinical work. The world’s instability and unpredictability – in relation to terrorism, Brexit or the Trump leadership and ensuing world issues – have left children and young people scared and bewildered. In a world of having to constantly focus on success, competition, perfection and uncertainty, they are scared about the decisions that adults around them take and the legacy of these decisions. The Children’s Society’s The Good Childhood Report 2017, released last month, confirms this. Among its key findings were that young people’s happiness is at its lowest since 2010 and that fear of crime was the most common problem, affecting 2.2 million 10- to 17-year-olds, with one in three teenage girls afraid of being followed by a stranger and one in four boys worried about being assaulted.

The feeling of insecurity in children and young people is intensified by the number of adults suffering from mental ill health. One in four adults in England experience a mental health problem while one in five mothers have anxiety or depression during pregnancy or during the first year after childbirth. It is estimated that nearly two million adults were in contact with specialist mental health services at some point in 2014-15, but that probably represents 20% of the people who needed help.

It is not surprising that children and young people are experiencing increasing problems with their mental health. Many have continuous, low-grade levels of anxiety and fearfulness. They face challenging, high expectations when it comes to schoolwork and friendships. Furthermore, they experience a range of adversities, including family financial difficulties, family breakdown, homelessness and emotional neglect.

The Good Childhood Report confirms that one million 10- to 17-year-olds (18%) have seven or more serious problems in their lives (such as a fear of crime, domestic violence and bereavement), while more than half (53%) have three or more problems to deal with. Meanwhile, they look on a world where their parents and elders are vulnerable, their friends are often troubled and the geopolitical situation is unpredictable, hard to comprehend and sometimes terrifying.

With all this at stake, essential local authority mental health services for children and young people are being cut. This makes no sense. It has meant less funding for training and recruitment of specialist mental health professionals and, as a cheaper option, a drive to recruit non-specialists, who cannot offer the treatment needed for recovery. More effective signposting from schools is a positive, but there are fewer services to signpost children to. This is all the more frustrating since, as a clinician, I know there are many effective, evidence-based treatments available to help children and young people recover quickly and effectively.

At a time of transition from the safety of school and home to university, it is not surprising that so many students are presenting with increased anxiety and depression. If we are to stem the increase in mental ill health problems in young people we need to find ways to make them feel safe. They need prompt access to effective interventions delivered by qualified clinicians and mental health professionals that can alleviate their internal turbulence.

At the same time, we need to offer equally rapid support and effective intervention to the adults in their lives. At the level of society, we must take more steps to ensure that we are taking measures to ensure their continued safety in areas such as terrorism and world affairs and be open to listening and allaying fears they may have. Most of all, we need to reassure young people that decisions taken by adults will take their safety and wellbeing into consideration, now and in the future.

Nihara Krause is a consultant clinical psychologist

More students than ever suffer mental ill health. We must change our toxic world | Nihara Krause

Yesterday’s report by the Institute for Public Policy Research revealed how the number of students disclosing a mental illness when they arrive at university has risen almost fivefold in the past decade. Left untreated, mental ill health problems grow, with students more likely to drop out of university, and there is also an increase in alcohol and drug misuse, self-harm and vulnerability to suicide.

This is a reflection of the substantial increase in the number of children receiving care for their mental health. This is a good thing. Data covering 60% of NHS mental health trusts revealed staggering figures: about a quarter of a million children were receiving mental health care in England. There were 11,849 boys and girls aged five and under receiving help, while 235,000 children and young people under the age of 18 were receiving specialist care.

But the figures also speak to a wider truth: there is no doubt that children and young people are now in environments that make mental health worse. In March, stem4, the teenage mental health charity I founded and am chief executive of, published the results of a survey of 500 12- to 16-year-olds. It revealed a number of anxieties, including exam worries (41%), work overload (31%), friendship concerns (28%), lack of confidence (26%), concerns over body image (26%) and feelings of being overwhelmed (25%). While anxiety may long have been part and parcel of the changes encountered in adolescence, where you feature in the academic and social hierarchy and performance worries are more of a modern-day phenomenon.

One statistic from this survey stood out for me: one in 10 teenagers reported strong feelings of anxiety over current world affairs. This is confirmation of the many reports I have from students I meet through the charity and in my clinical work. The world’s instability and unpredictability – in relation to terrorism, Brexit or the Trump leadership and ensuing world issues – have left children and young people scared and bewildered. In a world of having to constantly focus on success, competition, perfection and uncertainty, they are scared about the decisions that adults around them take and the legacy of these decisions. The Children’s Society’s The Good Childhood Report 2017, released last month, confirms this. Among its key findings were that young people’s happiness is at its lowest since 2010 and that fear of crime was the most common problem, affecting 2.2 million 10- to 17-year-olds, with one in three teenage girls afraid of being followed by a stranger and one in four boys worried about being assaulted.

The feeling of insecurity in children and young people is intensified by the number of adults suffering from mental ill health. One in four adults in England experience a mental health problem while one in five mothers have anxiety or depression during pregnancy or during the first year after childbirth. It is estimated that nearly two million adults were in contact with specialist mental health services at some point in 2014-15, but that probably represents 20% of the people who needed help.

It is not surprising that children and young people are experiencing increasing problems with their mental health. Many have continuous, low-grade levels of anxiety and fearfulness. They face challenging, high expectations when it comes to schoolwork and friendships. Furthermore, they experience a range of adversities, including family financial difficulties, family breakdown, homelessness and emotional neglect.

The Good Childhood Report confirms that one million 10- to 17-year-olds (18%) have seven or more serious problems in their lives (such as a fear of crime, domestic violence and bereavement), while more than half (53%) have three or more problems to deal with. Meanwhile, they look on a world where their parents and elders are vulnerable, their friends are often troubled and the geopolitical situation is unpredictable, hard to comprehend and sometimes terrifying.

With all this at stake, essential local authority mental health services for children and young people are being cut. This makes no sense. It has meant less funding for training and recruitment of specialist mental health professionals and, as a cheaper option, a drive to recruit non-specialists, who cannot offer the treatment needed for recovery. More effective signposting from schools is a positive, but there are fewer services to signpost children to. This is all the more frustrating since, as a clinician, I know there are many effective, evidence-based treatments available to help children and young people recover quickly and effectively.

At a time of transition from the safety of school and home to university, it is not surprising that so many students are presenting with increased anxiety and depression. If we are to stem the increase in mental ill health problems in young people we need to find ways to make them feel safe. They need prompt access to effective interventions delivered by qualified clinicians and mental health professionals that can alleviate their internal turbulence.

At the same time, we need to offer equally rapid support and effective intervention to the adults in their lives. At the level of society, we must take more steps to ensure that we are taking measures to ensure their continued safety in areas such as terrorism and world affairs and be open to listening and allaying fears they may have. Most of all, we need to reassure young people that decisions taken by adults will take their safety and wellbeing into consideration, now and in the future.

Nihara Krause is a consultant clinical psychologist

More students than ever suffer mental ill health. We must change our toxic world | Nihara Krause

Yesterday’s report by the Institute for Public Policy Research revealed how the number of students disclosing a mental illness when they arrive at university has risen almost fivefold in the past decade. Left untreated, mental ill health problems grow, with students more likely to drop out of university, and there is also an increase in alcohol and drug misuse, self-harm and vulnerability to suicide.

This is a reflection of the substantial increase in the number of children receiving care for their mental health. This is a good thing. Data covering 60% of NHS mental health trusts revealed staggering figures: about a quarter of a million children were receiving mental health care in England. There were 11,849 boys and girls aged five and under receiving help, while 235,000 children and young people under the age of 18 were receiving specialist care.

But the figures also speak to a wider truth: there is no doubt that children and young people are now in environments that make mental health worse. In March, stem4, the teenage mental health charity I founded and am chief executive of, published the results of a survey of 500 12- to 16-year-olds. It revealed a number of anxieties, including exam worries (41%), work overload (31%), friendship concerns (28%), lack of confidence (26%), concerns over body image (26%) and feelings of being overwhelmed (25%). While anxiety may long have been part and parcel of the changes encountered in adolescence, where you feature in the academic and social hierarchy and performance worries are more of a modern-day phenomenon.

One statistic from this survey stood out for me: one in 10 teenagers reported strong feelings of anxiety over current world affairs. This is confirmation of the many reports I have from students I meet through the charity and in my clinical work. The world’s instability and unpredictability – in relation to terrorism, Brexit or the Trump leadership and ensuing world issues – have left children and young people scared and bewildered. In a world of having to constantly focus on success, competition, perfection and uncertainty, they are scared about the decisions that adults around them take and the legacy of these decisions. The Children’s Society’s The Good Childhood Report 2017, released last month, confirms this. Among its key findings were that young people’s happiness is at its lowest since 2010 and that fear of crime was the most common problem, affecting 2.2 million 10- to 17-year-olds, with one in three teenage girls afraid of being followed by a stranger and one in four boys worried about being assaulted.

The feeling of insecurity in children and young people is intensified by the number of adults suffering from mental ill health. One in four adults in England experience a mental health problem while one in five mothers have anxiety or depression during pregnancy or during the first year after childbirth. It is estimated that nearly two million adults were in contact with specialist mental health services at some point in 2014-15, but that probably represents 20% of the people who needed help.

It is not surprising that children and young people are experiencing increasing problems with their mental health. Many have continuous, low-grade levels of anxiety and fearfulness. They face challenging, high expectations when it comes to schoolwork and friendships. Furthermore, they experience a range of adversities, including family financial difficulties, family breakdown, homelessness and emotional neglect.

The Good Childhood Report confirms that one million 10- to 17-year-olds (18%) have seven or more serious problems in their lives (such as a fear of crime, domestic violence and bereavement), while more than half (53%) have three or more problems to deal with. Meanwhile, they look on a world where their parents and elders are vulnerable, their friends are often troubled and the geopolitical situation is unpredictable, hard to comprehend and sometimes terrifying.

With all this at stake, essential local authority mental health services for children and young people are being cut. This makes no sense. It has meant less funding for training and recruitment of specialist mental health professionals and, as a cheaper option, a drive to recruit non-specialists, who cannot offer the treatment needed for recovery. More effective signposting from schools is a positive, but there are fewer services to signpost children to. This is all the more frustrating since, as a clinician, I know there are many effective, evidence-based treatments available to help children and young people recover quickly and effectively.

At a time of transition from the safety of school and home to university, it is not surprising that so many students are presenting with increased anxiety and depression. If we are to stem the increase in mental ill health problems in young people we need to find ways to make them feel safe. They need prompt access to effective interventions delivered by qualified clinicians and mental health professionals that can alleviate their internal turbulence.

At the same time, we need to offer equally rapid support and effective intervention to the adults in their lives. At the level of society, we must take more steps to ensure that we are taking measures to ensure their continued safety in areas such as terrorism and world affairs and be open to listening and allaying fears they may have. Most of all, we need to reassure young people that decisions taken by adults will take their safety and wellbeing into consideration, now and in the future.

Nihara Krause is a consultant clinical psychologist

More students than ever suffer mental ill health. We must change our toxic world | Nihara Krause

Yesterday’s report by the Institute for Public Policy Research revealed how the number of students disclosing a mental illness when they arrive at university has risen almost fivefold in the past decade. Left untreated, mental ill health problems grow, with students more likely to drop out of university, and there is also an increase in alcohol and drug misuse, self-harm and vulnerability to suicide.

This is a reflection of the substantial increase in the number of children receiving care for their mental health. This is a good thing. Data covering 60% of NHS mental health trusts revealed staggering figures: about a quarter of a million children were receiving mental health care in England. There were 11,849 boys and girls aged five and under receiving help, while 235,000 children and young people under the age of 18 were receiving specialist care.

But the figures also speak to a wider truth: there is no doubt that children and young people are now in environments that make mental health worse. In March, stem4, the teenage mental health charity I founded and am chief executive of, published the results of a survey of 500 12- to 16-year-olds. It revealed a number of anxieties, including exam worries (41%), work overload (31%), friendship concerns (28%), lack of confidence (26%), concerns over body image (26%) and feelings of being overwhelmed (25%). While anxiety may long have been part and parcel of the changes encountered in adolescence, where you feature in the academic and social hierarchy and performance worries are more of a modern-day phenomenon.

One statistic from this survey stood out for me: one in 10 teenagers reported strong feelings of anxiety over current world affairs. This is confirmation of the many reports I have from students I meet through the charity and in my clinical work. The world’s instability and unpredictability – in relation to terrorism, Brexit or the Trump leadership and ensuing world issues – have left children and young people scared and bewildered. In a world of having to constantly focus on success, competition, perfection and uncertainty, they are scared about the decisions that adults around them take and the legacy of these decisions. The Children’s Society’s The Good Childhood Report 2017, released last month, confirms this. Among its key findings were that young people’s happiness is at its lowest since 2010 and that fear of crime was the most common problem, affecting 2.2 million 10- to 17-year-olds, with one in three teenage girls afraid of being followed by a stranger and one in four boys worried about being assaulted.

The feeling of insecurity in children and young people is intensified by the number of adults suffering from mental ill health. One in four adults in England experience a mental health problem while one in five mothers have anxiety or depression during pregnancy or during the first year after childbirth. It is estimated that nearly two million adults were in contact with specialist mental health services at some point in 2014-15, but that probably represents 20% of the people who needed help.

It is not surprising that children and young people are experiencing increasing problems with their mental health. Many have continuous, low-grade levels of anxiety and fearfulness. They face challenging, high expectations when it comes to schoolwork and friendships. Furthermore, they experience a range of adversities, including family financial difficulties, family breakdown, homelessness and emotional neglect.

The Good Childhood Report confirms that one million 10- to 17-year-olds (18%) have seven or more serious problems in their lives (such as a fear of crime, domestic violence and bereavement), while more than half (53%) have three or more problems to deal with. Meanwhile, they look on a world where their parents and elders are vulnerable, their friends are often troubled and the geopolitical situation is unpredictable, hard to comprehend and sometimes terrifying.

With all this at stake, essential local authority mental health services for children and young people are being cut. This makes no sense. It has meant less funding for training and recruitment of specialist mental health professionals and, as a cheaper option, a drive to recruit non-specialists, who cannot offer the treatment needed for recovery. More effective signposting from schools is a positive, but there are fewer services to signpost children to. This is all the more frustrating since, as a clinician, I know there are many effective, evidence-based treatments available to help children and young people recover quickly and effectively.

At a time of transition from the safety of school and home to university, it is not surprising that so many students are presenting with increased anxiety and depression. If we are to stem the increase in mental ill health problems in young people we need to find ways to make them feel safe. They need prompt access to effective interventions delivered by qualified clinicians and mental health professionals that can alleviate their internal turbulence.

At the same time, we need to offer equally rapid support and effective intervention to the adults in their lives. At the level of society, we must take more steps to ensure that we are taking measures to ensure their continued safety in areas such as terrorism and world affairs and be open to listening and allaying fears they may have. Most of all, we need to reassure young people that decisions taken by adults will take their safety and wellbeing into consideration, now and in the future.

Nihara Krause is a consultant clinical psychologist

More students than ever suffer mental ill health. We must change our toxic world | Nihara Krause

Yesterday’s report by the Institute for Public Policy Research revealed how the number of students disclosing a mental illness when they arrive at university has risen almost fivefold in the past decade. Left untreated, mental ill health problems grow, with students more likely to drop out of university, and there is also an increase in alcohol and drug misuse, self-harm and vulnerability to suicide.

This is a reflection of the substantial increase in the number of children receiving care for their mental health. This is a good thing. Data covering 60% of NHS mental health trusts revealed staggering figures: about a quarter of a million children were receiving mental health care in England. There were 11,849 boys and girls aged five and under receiving help, while 235,000 children and young people under the age of 18 were receiving specialist care.

But the figures also speak to a wider truth: there is no doubt that children and young people are now in environments that make mental health worse. In March, stem4, the teenage mental health charity I founded and am chief executive of, published the results of a survey of 500 12- to 16-year-olds. It revealed a number of anxieties, including exam worries (41%), work overload (31%), friendship concerns (28%), lack of confidence (26%), concerns over body image (26%) and feelings of being overwhelmed (25%). While anxiety may long have been part and parcel of the changes encountered in adolescence, where you feature in the academic and social hierarchy and performance worries are more of a modern-day phenomenon.

One statistic from this survey stood out for me: one in 10 teenagers reported strong feelings of anxiety over current world affairs. This is confirmation of the many reports I have from students I meet through the charity and in my clinical work. The world’s instability and unpredictability – in relation to terrorism, Brexit or the Trump leadership and ensuing world issues – have left children and young people scared and bewildered. In a world of having to constantly focus on success, competition, perfection and uncertainty, they are scared about the decisions that adults around them take and the legacy of these decisions. The Children’s Society’s The Good Childhood Report 2017, released last month, confirms this. Among its key findings were that young people’s happiness is at its lowest since 2010 and that fear of crime was the most common problem, affecting 2.2 million 10- to 17-year-olds, with one in three teenage girls afraid of being followed by a stranger and one in four boys worried about being assaulted.

The feeling of insecurity in children and young people is intensified by the number of adults suffering from mental ill health. One in four adults in England experience a mental health problem while one in five mothers have anxiety or depression during pregnancy or during the first year after childbirth. It is estimated that nearly two million adults were in contact with specialist mental health services at some point in 2014-15, but that probably represents 20% of the people who needed help.

It is not surprising that children and young people are experiencing increasing problems with their mental health. Many have continuous, low-grade levels of anxiety and fearfulness. They face challenging, high expectations when it comes to schoolwork and friendships. Furthermore, they experience a range of adversities, including family financial difficulties, family breakdown, homelessness and emotional neglect.

The Good Childhood Report confirms that one million 10- to 17-year-olds (18%) have seven or more serious problems in their lives (such as a fear of crime, domestic violence and bereavement), while more than half (53%) have three or more problems to deal with. Meanwhile, they look on a world where their parents and elders are vulnerable, their friends are often troubled and the geopolitical situation is unpredictable, hard to comprehend and sometimes terrifying.

With all this at stake, essential local authority mental health services for children and young people are being cut. This makes no sense. It has meant less funding for training and recruitment of specialist mental health professionals and, as a cheaper option, a drive to recruit non-specialists, who cannot offer the treatment needed for recovery. More effective signposting from schools is a positive, but there are fewer services to signpost children to. This is all the more frustrating since, as a clinician, I know there are many effective, evidence-based treatments available to help children and young people recover quickly and effectively.

At a time of transition from the safety of school and home to university, it is not surprising that so many students are presenting with increased anxiety and depression. If we are to stem the increase in mental ill health problems in young people we need to find ways to make them feel safe. They need prompt access to effective interventions delivered by qualified clinicians and mental health professionals that can alleviate their internal turbulence.

At the same time, we need to offer equally rapid support and effective intervention to the adults in their lives. At the level of society, we must take more steps to ensure that we are taking measures to ensure their continued safety in areas such as terrorism and world affairs and be open to listening and allaying fears they may have. Most of all, we need to reassure young people that decisions taken by adults will take their safety and wellbeing into consideration, now and in the future.

Nihara Krause is a consultant clinical psychologist

More students than ever suffer mental ill health. We must change our toxic world | Nihara Krause

Yesterday’s report by the Institute for Public Policy Research revealed how the number of students disclosing a mental illness when they arrive at university has risen almost fivefold in the past decade. Left untreated, mental ill health problems grow, with students more likely to drop out of university, and there is also an increase in alcohol and drug misuse, self-harm and vulnerability to suicide.

This is a reflection of the substantial increase in the number of children receiving care for their mental health. This is a good thing. Data covering 60% of NHS mental health trusts revealed staggering figures: about a quarter of a million children were receiving mental health care in England. There were 11,849 boys and girls aged five and under receiving help, while 235,000 children and young people under the age of 18 were receiving specialist care.

But the figures also speak to a wider truth: there is no doubt that children and young people are now in environments that make mental health worse. In March, stem4, the teenage mental health charity I founded and am chief executive of, published the results of a survey of 500 12- to 16-year-olds. It revealed a number of anxieties, including exam worries (41%), work overload (31%), friendship concerns (28%), lack of confidence (26%), concerns over body image (26%) and feelings of being overwhelmed (25%). While anxiety may long have been part and parcel of the changes encountered in adolescence, where you feature in the academic and social hierarchy and performance worries are more of a modern-day phenomenon.

One statistic from this survey stood out for me: one in 10 teenagers reported strong feelings of anxiety over current world affairs. This is confirmation of the many reports I have from students I meet through the charity and in my clinical work. The world’s instability and unpredictability – in relation to terrorism, Brexit or the Trump leadership and ensuing world issues – have left children and young people scared and bewildered. In a world of having to constantly focus on success, competition, perfection and uncertainty, they are scared about the decisions that adults around them take and the legacy of these decisions. The Children’s Society’s The Good Childhood Report 2017, released last month, confirms this. Among its key findings were that young people’s happiness is at its lowest since 2010 and that fear of crime was the most common problem, affecting 2.2 million 10- to 17-year-olds, with one in three teenage girls afraid of being followed by a stranger and one in four boys worried about being assaulted.

The feeling of insecurity in children and young people is intensified by the number of adults suffering from mental ill health. One in four adults in England experience a mental health problem while one in five mothers have anxiety or depression during pregnancy or during the first year after childbirth. It is estimated that nearly two million adults were in contact with specialist mental health services at some point in 2014-15, but that probably represents 20% of the people who needed help.

It is not surprising that children and young people are experiencing increasing problems with their mental health. Many have continuous, low-grade levels of anxiety and fearfulness. They face challenging, high expectations when it comes to schoolwork and friendships. Furthermore, they experience a range of adversities, including family financial difficulties, family breakdown, homelessness and emotional neglect.

The Good Childhood Report confirms that one million 10- to 17-year-olds (18%) have seven or more serious problems in their lives (such as a fear of crime, domestic violence and bereavement), while more than half (53%) have three or more problems to deal with. Meanwhile, they look on a world where their parents and elders are vulnerable, their friends are often troubled and the geopolitical situation is unpredictable, hard to comprehend and sometimes terrifying.

With all this at stake, essential local authority mental health services for children and young people are being cut. This makes no sense. It has meant less funding for training and recruitment of specialist mental health professionals and, as a cheaper option, a drive to recruit non-specialists, who cannot offer the treatment needed for recovery. More effective signposting from schools is a positive, but there are fewer services to signpost children to. This is all the more frustrating since, as a clinician, I know there are many effective, evidence-based treatments available to help children and young people recover quickly and effectively.

At a time of transition from the safety of school and home to university, it is not surprising that so many students are presenting with increased anxiety and depression. If we are to stem the increase in mental ill health problems in young people we need to find ways to make them feel safe. They need prompt access to effective interventions delivered by qualified clinicians and mental health professionals that can alleviate their internal turbulence.

At the same time, we need to offer equally rapid support and effective intervention to the adults in their lives. At the level of society, we must take more steps to ensure that we are taking measures to ensure their continued safety in areas such as terrorism and world affairs and be open to listening and allaying fears they may have. Most of all, we need to reassure young people that decisions taken by adults will take their safety and wellbeing into consideration, now and in the future.

Nihara Krause is a consultant clinical psychologist

Wales: number of people waiting more than a year for surgery up 400%

The Labour-led Welsh government’s management of the health service has attracted fresh criticism after it emerged that the number of people waiting more than 12 months for an operation in Wales has risen by more than 400% in the past four years.

A freedom of information request by the Royal College of Surgeons (RCS) revealed the number of people waiting more than 52 weeks for surgery in the year ending March 2017 was 3,605. In March 2013, the figure was 699.

The number of people waiting more than a year for treatment in England – which has more than 17 times the population of Wales – was 1,302.

Tim Havard, regional director for Wales at the RCS and a consultant general surgeon said: “Long waits for surgery can be traumatising for patients and their families. In some cases patients will be in extreme pain or immobile, possibly unable to work or carry out daily tasks. A patient’s condition can also deteriorate the longer they are made to wait for treatment, meaning the eventual outcomes are not as good as they could have been.”

He acknowledged that overall waiting times longer than 36 weeks in Wales had started to come down over the past couple of years but said the steep increase in the number of those patients waiting longer than a year for treatment was very worrying.

Havard said: “NHS Wales and the government must give renewed focus to policies that will help decrease waiting times. In particular, we’d like to see better provision of out-of-hospital services and more protection of beds used for planned surgery.”

The figures were seized on by Labour’s opponents. The shadow health secretary, Welsh Conservatives’ Angela Burns AM, said: “No one should have to wait more than a year for surgery, but that’s becoming a painful reality for more and more NHS patients in Wales. The longer patients are allowed to languish on waiting lists, the more complex their needs become, and the more expensive their treatment is to minister.”

The Welsh government said the majority of patients were treated within target times despite increased demand on the NHS.

It said that over the past five years referrals to hospital-based services had increased by about 20%. A spokesperson said: “However, we acknowledge some people are still waiting too long for treatment” and added that action plans had been put in place and extra money was being ploughed into the health service to improve waiting times.

Survival of premature babies more likely now than in mid-1990s, study shows

Premature babies born in recent years are more likely to survive and less likely to have severe disabilities than those born in the mid-1990s, research has revealed.

According to the World Health Organisation, around 15 million babies worldwide are born before the 37th week of pregnancy every year, with premature babies at higher risk of severe disabilities, such as cerebral palsy, as well as a greater chance of delayed development of language and motor skills.

But experts say the new research offers good news, at least for children in developed countries.

“Not only has survival [of premature babies] improved, but survival without these [severe] disabilities,” said Pierre-Yves Ancel, professor of public health at the French National Institute of Health and Medical Research and co-author of the research.

The latest study sought to probe not only the later health of babies born extremely prematurely – below 26 weeks of gestation – but also those born on a less dramatic time-frame at 27-34 weeks, that have been studied less often.

“When you go up to the higher gestations you start to include more and more children that are born prematurely,” said Andrei Morgan, another author of the research.

Published in the British Medical Journal by a team from a number of French institutions, the research drew on the results of a study known as Epipage 2. This study collected data from across France for babies born between 22 and 34 weeks of gestation during 2011 –with a total of 5,567 live births noted.

Based on medical questionnaires from 3,599 of the children assessed at around two years old (an age relating to their due data, rather than their birth date) the results reveal that 6.9% of children born at 24-26 weeks had cerebral palsy. The figure fell to 4.3% for those born at 27-31 weeks and to 1% for those born at 32-34 weeks. Fewer than 1% of the children overall were found to have severe visual impairments or hearing difficulties.

The medical data was also compared to that collected in the original Epipage study, which tracked the outcomes for premature babies born at 22-34 weeks in nine regions of France during 1997.

The results reveal that since 1997, survival for babies born at 22-31 weeks has increased by 6%, while survival without sensory or neuromotor disabilities increased by just over 7%. No change was seen for less premature babies, with survival – and survival without severe disabilities – high in both studies. More specifically the rate of cerebral palsy among toddlers declined by 3.3% both for those born at 24-31 as well as those born at 32-34 weeks.

“It is not clear what causes cerebral palsy – it is probably a combination of factors,” said Morgan, adding that advances in the care of pregnant women, women in labour and newborns are all likely to have contributed to the improved rates, with improvements in screening for various conditions also likely to have increased the rates of survival without severe disabilities.

The latest study also asked parents to complete a questionnaire probing various areas of neurodevelopment, including their toddler’s communication abilities and motor skills.

The results from 2,506 children without severe disabilities reveal that just over half of children born at 24-26 weeks were found to have scores markedly below average. Those who spent longer in the womb fared better, with just under 41% and just over 36% of children born at 27-31 weeks and 32-34 weeks respectively falling below the threshold.

That, says Ancel, suggests that while the rates of severe disabilities among premature babies is improving, they remain at risk of developmental delay.

Andrew Shennan, clinical director of Tommy’s Prematurity Research Centre in the UK, agreed that the research showed those born preterm were still at risk of delayed development, but added there was good news.

“This data suggests that improvements in care to mother and baby are now having a beneficial impact in terms of survival,” he said.

Dieter Wolke, professor of developmental psychology and individual differences at the University of Warwick who was not involved in the study, agreed, adding that the positive findings mirrored those of other large studies.

But, he said, it was of concern that babies born very preterm have no better outlook for their neurodevelopment than those born more than a decade before.

“With higher survival of preterm children but no improvement in neurodevelopmental outcome, there will be overall more children with neurodevelopmental problems in the community,” he said, adding that many problems are linked to cognitive and social skills.

“More emphasis should be put in follow-up programmes on social and communications skills and include experts in these fields, [such as] psychologists [and] speech therapists, to suggest appropriate interventions,” he said.

Survival of premature babies more likely now than in mid-1990s, study shows

Premature babies born in recent years are more likely to survive and less likely to have severe disabilities than those born in the mid-1990s, research has revealed.

According to the World Health Organisation, around 15 million babies worldwide are born before the 37th week of pregnancy every year, with premature babies at higher risk of severe disabilities, such as cerebral palsy, as well as a greater chance of delayed development of language and motor skills.

But experts say the new research offers good news, at least for children in developed countries.

“Not only has survival [of premature babies] improved, but survival without these [severe] disabilities,” said Pierre-Yves Ancel, professor of public health at the French National Institute of Health and Medical Research and co-author of the research.

The latest study sought to probe not only the later health of babies born extremely prematurely – below 26 weeks of gestation – but also those born on a less dramatic time-frame at 27-34 weeks, that have been studied less often.

“When you go up to the higher gestations you start to include more and more children that are born prematurely,” said Andrei Morgan, another author of the research.

Published in the British Medical Journal by a team from a number of French institutions, the research drew on the results of a study known as Epipage 2. This study collected data from across France for babies born between 22 and 34 weeks of gestation during 2011 –with a total of 5,567 live births noted.

Based on medical questionnaires from 3,599 of the children assessed at around two years old (an age relating to their due data, rather than their birth date) the results reveal that 6.9% of children born at 24-26 weeks had cerebral palsy. The figure fell to 4.3% for those born at 27-31 weeks and to 1% for those born at 32-34 weeks. Fewer than 1% of the children overall were found to have severe visual impairments or hearing difficulties.

The medical data was also compared to that collected in the original Epipage study, which tracked the outcomes for premature babies born at 22-34 weeks in nine regions of France during 1997.

The results reveal that since 1997, survival for babies born at 22-31 weeks has increased by 6%, while survival without sensory or neuromotor disabilities increased by just over 7%. No change was seen for less premature babies, with survival – and survival without severe disabilities – high in both studies. More specifically the rate of cerebral palsy among toddlers declined by 3.3% both for those born at 24-31 as well as those born at 32-34 weeks.

“It is not clear what causes cerebral palsy – it is probably a combination of factors,” said Morgan, adding that advances in the care of pregnant women, women in labour and newborns are all likely to have contributed to the improved rates, with improvements in screening for various conditions also likely to have increased the rates of survival without severe disabilities.

The latest study also asked parents to complete a questionnaire probing various areas of neurodevelopment, including their toddler’s communication abilities and motor skills.

The results from 2,506 children without severe disabilities reveal that just over half of children born at 24-26 weeks were found to have scores markedly below average. Those who spent longer in the womb fared better, with just under 41% and just over 36% of children born at 27-31 weeks and 32-34 weeks respectively falling below the threshold.

That, says Ancel, suggests that while the rates of severe disabilities among premature babies is improving, they remain at risk of developmental delay.

Andrew Shennan, clinical director of Tommy’s Prematurity Research Centre in the UK, agreed that the research showed those born preterm were still at risk of delayed development, but added there was good news.

“This data suggests that improvements in care to mother and baby are now having a beneficial impact in terms of survival,” he said.

Dieter Wolke, professor of developmental psychology and individual differences at the University of Warwick who was not involved in the study, agreed, adding that the positive findings mirrored those of other large studies.

But, he said, it was of concern that babies born very preterm have no better outlook for their neurodevelopment than those born more than a decade before.

“With higher survival of preterm children but no improvement in neurodevelopmental outcome, there will be overall more children with neurodevelopmental problems in the community,” he said, adding that many problems are linked to cognitive and social skills.

“More emphasis should be put in follow-up programmes on social and communications skills and include experts in these fields, [such as] psychologists [and] speech therapists, to suggest appropriate interventions,” he said.