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Impact of Depression or Anxiety on Children and Adolescents in the UK Under Age 18 Suffering from Depression or Anxiety Disorders


Task: How do depression and anxiety disorders affect children and adolescents under 18 in the UK, and what are the challenges and improvements needed in the mental health support system?


1. Introduction

The aim of the assignment is to present a report highlighting the perspectives of mental health service users and carers in the UK on children and adolescents under the age of 18, living with depression or anxiety disorders in the United Kingdom. The primary goal of this report is to provide a critical analysis in terms of highlighting how such mental illnesses like depression or anxiety disorders can have an impact on children and adolescents under the age of 18 from the standpoint of the service users. Investigating interventions and support mechanisms available in the UK and getting access to understanding the effectiveness of adequate mental health services in the UK will unveil specific viewpoints on the chosen illness and its treatment and support services. The use of qualitative data with relevant information will help the report assess whether the current services in the UK can adequately meet the diverse needs of individuals suffering from depression and anxiety disorders and how policy changes can be expected to improve the support system in the UK.

2. Discussion of Findings

2.1. Chosen Mental Illness and Impact on Social Group: Children and Adolescents Under Age 18 with Depression or Anxiety Disorders

When it comes to the impact of depression and anxiety disorders on children and adolescents, there has been a matter of significant concern in the UK in recent years. According to the data presented by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) in 2022, 18% of children in the UK had a probable mental disorder and they are aged between 7 to 16 years of age (Newlove-Delgado et al., 2022). Often fears and worries can be seen in children because of study pressure, parental scolding or conflict among friends which is typical.

However, persistent or extreme forms of fear and sadness can often refer to the negative consequences among children created because of anxiety or depression. Extreme cases of bullying or rejection by friends or families or maltreatment from a very early age can be some reasons for anxiety and depression in children. According to the data from the National Health Service (NHS) in 2019, 12.8% of children and young adolescents have at least one mental breakdown once a year (Lamont and Dickens, 2019). In this report, it is revealed that girls usually have a higher prevalence ratio of being affected by depression and anxiety disorders because of genetic and biological factors. This study revealed that the gendered nature of mental health challenges in children and adolescents is a real problem in the United Kingdom.

To highlight the negative impact of anxiety and disorder on the lives of these children, it is obvious to note that many children do not even acknowledge getting affected by anxiety or depression which creates a severe impact on their academic performance later on. Studies have found a correlation between mental health issues and academic performance as children and adolescents with depression and anxiety disorders have been identified to underperform in school compared to children not affected by any forms of depression or anxiety (Pitchforth et al., 2019).

Because of mental instability and not understanding the long-term effects of anxiety disorder, many children can not disclose their respective conditions to their parents, families or teachers. Especially, if the children are aged under 10, usually things can get a bit complicated where parents can not even understand the reason behind the underperformance of their children affected by mental disorders and on the flip side, these children also can not reveal their conditions clearly. According to a report, it was found that young adolescents with depression could often be at an increased risk of self-harm and suicidal ideation (Duarte et al., 2020).

Because of anxiety, children can inhibit some form of delusions which can make them stressed and uninterested in subjects, impacting their ability to learn and retain information. These stressful events can often trigger suicidal thoughts in children as a heavy mental burden and not getting the flexibility to think and express their own thoughts to the elderly can be frustrating for these children.

Coming to the point of interventions, counselling and cognitive behavioural therapy can have a significant role in managing critical conditions. Medication can have also a crucial role in helping children overcome the challenges of being stressed or getting depressed all the time and become free of these with proper constant care. However, there is no full guarantee that counselling or therapeutic treatment can cure any children affected by such disorders. For some patients, things might even take longer time than expected and for some patients, they can get well much before. The accessibility and effectiveness of these interventions can vary from one person to another.

There is also a significant lack of awareness and infrastructure in most parts of the world in terms of how children receive support or get access to services. The legal frameworks support all children in the UK to receive medical support anytime, however, incidents of children and their parents not getting accessible services due to long waiting hours for appointments have also come out. According to the National Health Service (NHS) report, the prevalence of childhood depression in the UK has been projected to be around 1% in pre-pubertal children and approximately 3% in post-pubertal adolescents (Ford, John and Gunnell, 2021). These data and numbers question the inequality in service provision which needs to be addressed as soon as possible. Making sure that all children, irrespective of their background, can receive the necessary support should be the core focus of care service providers and healthcare groups in the UK.

2.2. Service Users/Parents' Perspectives on Anxiety Disorders

Understanding the perspectives of service users and carers will be crucial to tailor mental health services so that the unique needs of the specific demographics consisting of children under age 18 suffering from anxiety or depression disorder in the UK can be handled with utmost care. In the United Kingdom, the most commonly diagnosed mental health problem is anxiety and depression which is reported to claim that 7.8% of people are every year diagnosed (Pieh et al., 2021).

According to the findings, carers were primarily concerned with how to provide services so that the physical safety of the patients could be given the top priority so that they could not go for self-harm or suicidal thoughts. Both the physical safety and psychological safety approaches in mental care treatment are intended to prevent relief for the patients admitted. In a study, one service user associated giving priority to physical safety with professional accountability gave statements such as, "…the problem is that staff… take on this role of risk managers where they’re seen as the ones that have to control and manage the situation which… leaves this sort of paternalistic attitude… narrows the focus of risk assessment to those things for which staff will be held accountable for, rather than the issues and concerns that service users have".

On the issue of raising concerns that many people frequently talk about the difficulty of raising concerns about care and safety in mental support wards, a female service user pointed out, "If you are ill enough to be detained, you do not have the mental energy to start formulating complaints and pursuing a complaints procedure". When it comes to the behaviour of nursing wards toward patients, it would be difficult to generalise everything based on a few statements, however, for the sake of understanding what the health carers go through assessing their statements will be interesting. One such example would be of a male carer who showed no satisfactory response following a concern when raised, "I complained on the ward at the time… it was very defensive.

I never heard anything about it, it didn’t get followed up, as far as I heard". However, statements such as "They don't take self?harm seriously, she managed to self?harm multiple times whilst she was there and annoyingly it was the same thing. It’s like, yeah she’s done this before she’s going to do it again" raises questions over how much actually health activists and care service providers are aware of in terms of the seriousness of these issues. Again it is important to note that the skill set and experience of healthcare providers also matter because professionally experienced service carers tend to be more sensitive and make more precautionary decisions than an intern or newbie. Again, things should not be generalised for the sake of giving research findings.

However, one statement from an individual female service user fits here who quoted, "If you don’t have the skill or the… sensitivity, the experience… you don’t just need numbers of unskilled bank staff that have just a week’s induction… not having a clue about mental distress". To analyse the viewpoint of parents, it is also important to highlight that many parents do not have a proper understanding of what mental disorders could be and especially if their children are getting affected, they do not have a clue why things could have probably gone wrong. In these scenarios, taking counselling on parents and letting them make stable decisions becomes very important, however, there are also instances found where ward carers do not seem to take things seriously.

The purpose of highlighting only the negative statements here is to focus on the loopholes of the system so that better interventions can be taken. A mother complained about how her son was mistreated and how service users handled the situation with disrespect and no forms of sorry. "Son had asked him something, this guy, and the guy came back at him very aggressively while I was there, and I challenged that at the time… I said that he's a patient, you know… he's not well, and I complained on the ward.

…they were laughing at my distress…the female nurse, said to me, if I were you I would shut your mouth or you’ll get six months, not 28 days." These things need to change with stronger implementation of policies and laws. More importantly, increasing social awareness and increasing sensitivity among healthcare professionals should be looked out for.

2.3. Interventions and Support Services in the UK

There are numerous surveys conducted that highlight the challenges present in accessing Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) for medical and mental health professionals. The main concern over waiting times to get appointments fixed is important here in the report to consider. The significant gap between inequalities in services comparing some well-established support systems with systems lacking in resources and trained professionals opens up the hypocrisy of the system presented in the UK.

There are three types of support services popular for the treatment of childhood anxiety disorders in the UK. The most popular is cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) where combined with medication children are treated to fight against severe anxiety with constant consultancies and therapies. The second option is variability in school-based support which provides mental health support working as assistance for diagnosed children and their parents. The child IAPT program comes under this policy where the caretakers look for interventions for depression and anxiety disorders among children.

The third most popular intervention is parent-only psychological interventions where these interventions allow for improving parenting behaviours and parental approach to child mental health so that children can get back on the normal track. Focusing on nurturing, discipline, teaching and monitoring behavioural traits of parenting can have a significant positive influence on child care and growth. These steps in the UK infrastructure can be hailed as positive steps toward addressing the mental health needs of children, however, the significant challenges such as unequal access to care services or inconsistencies in support should require proper attention from the government.

3. Conclusion

In conclusion, the report works as documentation to provide evidence suggesting how the healthcare services and support mechanisms in the United Kingdom work with respect to helping children and adolescents suffering from depression or anxiety disorders. The report highlights the whole scenario of mental illness to focus on how these mental disorders can impact children and their welfare. Taking claims of service users and parents, the report revolves around highlighting the current condition in the healthcare system of the UK. The report also addresses the challenge in the support service systems to raise voices in taking more proactive changes.


Duarte, T.A., Paulino, S., Almeida, C., Gomes, H.S., Santos, N. and Gouveia-Pereira, M., 2020. Self-harm as a predisposition for suicide attempts: A study of adolescents' deliberate self-harm, suicidal ideation, and suicide attempts. Psychiatry Research, 287, p.112553. Ford, T., John, A. and Gunnell, D., 2021. Mental health of children and young people during pandemic. bmj, 372.

Lamont, E. and Dickens, G.L., 2019. Mental health services, care provision, and professional support for people diagnosed with borderline personality disorder: systematic review of service-user, family, and carer perspectives. Journal of Mental Health.

Newlove-Delgado, T., Marcheselli, F., Williams, T., Mandalia, D., Davis, J., McManus, S., Savic, M., Treloar, W. and Ford, T., 2022. Mental Health of Children and Young People in England, 2022-wave 3 follow up to the 2017 survey.

Pieh, C., Budimir, S., Delgadillo, J., Barkham, M., Fontaine, J.R. and Probst, T., 2021. Mental health during COVID-19 lockdown in the United Kingdom. Psychosomatic medicine, 83(4), pp.328-337.

Pitchforth, J., Fahy, K., Ford, T., Wolpert, M., Viner, R.M. and Hargreaves, D.S., 2019. Mental health and well-being trends among children and young people in the UK, 1995–2014: analysis of repeated cross-sectional national health surveys. Psychological medicine, 49(8), pp.1275-1285.


Berzins, K., Baker, J., Louch, G. and Albutt, A., 2020. A qualitative exploration of mental health service user and carer perspectives on safety issues in UK mental health services. Health Expectations, 23(3), pp.549-561.


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