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6. Key findings

One in ten children aged 5-16 are estimated to have a diagnosable mental health problem in the UK. Applying this to South Gloucestershire’s population, this translates to approximately 4,800 children and young people.

A single risk factor is thought to result in a 1-2% chance of developing a mental health problem; increasing to an 8% chance in the presence of three risk factors, and a 20% chance with four risk factors. Without help and support at the right time and in the right place, risky behaviours and poor psychological resilience can persist into adulthood. By providing effective early intervention services, significant life-long savings can be made in each case.

A recent survey of school children across South Gloucestershire (secondary school age) highlighted some concerning data regarding levels of drinking  17.3% of pupils (years 8-10) reported being drunk regularly; nearly 43.7% of secondary school pupils reported feeling stressed about school work; nearly 8.6% of secondary school children reported being or having someone in their immediate family who experienced domestic abuse. Year 8 through Year 12 had a 16% overall prevalence of self-harm, with year 10 experiencing the highest prevalence of 18%. Other points of note include 48.5% of those who felt they should join a gang and joined reported self-harming. Of those who reported self-harming, 28% reported doing it ‘quite often’ or ‘most days’.

Referrals from South Gloucestershire to tier three services have increased in the last five years while the percentage of acceptance by the service has decreased. According to ONS 2014 published statistics, in South Gloucestershire an estimated number of 1,060 children aged 17 and under would require Tier 3 service. This is twice the number of children who have been referred and accepted for these services.

Hospital admissions due to mental health conditions have increased over the last five years for South Gloucestershire as have admissions for self-harm for those under 19 years of age.

Views of stakeholders (young people, parents, carers, professionals and service providers) obtained via a number of events and focus groups include the recommendation that information and training is required by all, work with schools should be increased, care pathways should be clarified, risk factors should be targeted (for example via a whole family approach), risk groups such as young carers should be targeted to access services, alternatives should be identified for those not reaching CAMHS service thresholds (such as talking therapies, key workers and peer support) and support should be offered during transition into adult services.

National guidance recommends an integrated whole-system approach, with the NHS, public health, voluntary and community, local authority children’s services, education and youth justice sectors working together to create a system built around the needs of children, young people and their families, rather than rigidly defined in terms of the services on offer by an organisation.