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Myth vs reality – childhood mental health

Myth: children and teenagers don’t experience mental health conditions

Fact: 1 in 10 children under 15 has a mental health problem – about 3 in every class. And some conditions, such as eating disorders, are on the rise among children and teenagers. And the numbers being treated for conditions like eating disorders are on the rise among children and young people.

Myth: isn’t all of this just teenagers being teenagers?

Fact: during adolescence the teenage brain is going through huge changes. This means that for most teenagers, mood swings are common and emotions can run high.

But these biological and social changes can also lead to mental health conditions manifesting themselves or developing further. Half of all diagnosable mental health conditions start before the age of 14, but this rises to 75% by the age of 18.

So what may appear as ‘just being a teenager’, may actually be signs of more serious mental health conditions developing. Spotting these early is key in building resilience and encouraging life long mental health.

Myth: It’s not serious. Children and teenagers aren’t at risk of suicide.

Fact: a third of young people have contemplated or attempted suicide, according to a survey released in 2013. And in the same year, 170 young people aged 15 – 19 took their own life.

Myth: we know the reasons why mental health develops in children and teenagers, and how to treat it

Fact: Whilst mental health science has made progress in recent years, there’s still so much we don’t know.

Why? Because for too long not enough funding has gone into research into mental health. For every cancer patient, we spend £1,571 on research. For those affected by mental health, it’s just £9.75.

Myth: there’s nothing we can do about this

Fact: There is. Through research we can reach a day when no one with a mental illness goes without the treatment or support they need to take control of their lives. And by getting involved with MQ you can help us reach that day faster. 

Last updated: 31 May 2016

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© MQ: Transforming mental health 2016 | Registered charity in England / Wales: 1139916 & Scotland: SC046075 | Company number: 7406055