Published: 7 July 2022
The Health Foundation’s Networked Data Lab (NDL) has analysed data across England, Scotland and Wales to reveal new insights about children and young people receiving mental health support. Analysis by local teams including in Wales, flags three areas for further investigation, nationally and locally 1
The data for Wales showed that 2:
The analysis reveals that across the UK, the number of children and young people experiencing mental health problems is growing. Mental health services are expanding, but not fast enough to meet rising needs, leaving many children and young people with limited or no support. It also shows that too little is known about who receives care and crucially, who doesn’t.
The report authors are calling for more resources to be targeted at prevention among those most at risk of developing mental ill health. They highlight that general practice is likely to need additional support, as it faces crippling workforce shortages while also playing an increasing role in the management and care for children and young people with mental health conditions. Improvements in data collection, quality and analysis will also be crucial to inform policy decisions on where services need to expand to meet need and reduce health inequalities.
Prof. Alisha Davis, Project Lead, Wales Lab, said:
‘NDL Wales has shown the potential of linked data, by bringing together data from across the emergency care system to better understand children and young people’s mental health in Wales. Working collaboratively across Public Health Wales, Digital Health and Care Wales, Social Care Wales, Swansea University and the Welsh Ambulance Service Trust, the questions addressed are driven by local priorities, and the insights generated contributing to the evidence needed to inform action.’
Charles Tallack, Director of Data Analytics at the Health Foundation, said:
‘The analysis shows that to improve the mental health of children and young people urgent investigation is needed into the deterioration of young women’s mental health, the drivers of marked socioeconomic inequalities, and the rapid growth in prescribing and use of GP support not just in the areas which took part in this analysis, but across the UK. Children and young people need support for their mental health more than ever, but gaps in data mean that we know too little about where services are most needed.
‘We already know that the prevalence of mental health problems varies by sex, age, and socioeconomic deprivation but data on who is receiving support is not widely available and is currently not detailed enough to show the variation by these characteristics. High-quality data and analysis will play a crucial role in targeting preventative interventions, better planning of services and ultimately, improving children’s and young people’s mental health. It is vital that local areas are supported to make better use of data to help inform decision making.’
The full NDL analysis can be viewed here: Improving children and young peoples mental health services
The Networked Data Lab is a collaborative network of advanced analytical teams across the UK. Led by the Health Foundation, we work together on shared challenges and promoting the use of analytics in improving health and social care. Using linked data, we aim to understand and solve the toughest health and care issues facing the UK today.
The Networked Data Lab is comprised of the following partners:
The Health Foundation is an independent charity committed to bringing about better health and health care for people in the UK.