Nearly a quarter of a million children and young people are receiving mental health care in England, figures have shown.
The Guardian revealed 235,189 people aged 18 and under get specialist care, after looking at data covering 60% of mental health trusts in England.
Among this number, 11,849 were boys and girls aged five and under, and 53,659 were aged between six and 10.
There were more boys who received care (130,395) than girls (104,522).
“It’s staggering that so many children and young people are in need of specialist mental health care,” Sarah Brennan, chief executive of YoungMinds told The Huffington Post UK.
“These figures should act as a wake-up call. As a society, we need to do far more to prevent mental health problems from developing in the first place.”
Brennan continued: “To start with, we urgently need to rebalance our education system, so that schools are encouraged to prioritise wellbeing and not just exam results.
“There also needs to be far more investment in early intervention, so that problems are dealt with when they first emerge.
“Cutting local authority budgets on things like social workers, educational psychologists and support programmes for parents is incredibly short-sighted, and puts a huge burden on services further up the chain.”
The news comes just weeks after it was revealed that Childline dealt with record levels of children having suicidal thoughts in 2015.
The NSPCC’s 24-hour helpline dealt with 19,481 sessions for young people contemplating taking their life in 2015, the annual report ‘It Turned Out Someone Did Care’ revealed.
That’s the equivalent of one session every half an hour, or 53 a day.
“It is deeply disturbing that in the past year nearly 20,000 children and young people contacted Childline because they felt so deeply unhappy that many of them wanted to take their own lives,” said Dame Esther Rantzen, president of Childline.
“It is crucial that we ask ourselves why children in this country feel so lonely, and so desperate, that they have to turn to Childline for help and support.”