The Rise of Mental Health Issues in Young Adults

Being a minority group, there is still very little understood about seriously mentally ill young adults between 18-25 within the community mental health system. 

These important individuals hover between the last development stages of adolescence and the beginnings of full adulthood; struggling in a system not specifically designed for them.

Individuals in community mental health treatment programmes are typically in their 30’s and 40’s and can prove very intimidating; sometimes frightening to a younger person, which is likely to have a negative impact on the latter’s ability to embrace a treatment programme and seek the help they need.  These situations can then manifest further with the individuals tending to act out sexually, to use drugs and alcohol, or to create other crises which require immediate staff intervention, putting additional strain on an already scarce and under qualified resource.

According to an NSPCC survey of professionals in 2015, longer waiting lists, reductions in spending and higher thresholds for therapy have made it harder for affected children to access vital therapeutic services.  Surely it’s not just a coincidence that the rates of depression and anxiety among teenagers have increased by 70% in the last 25 years.  Almost 19,000 were admitted to hospital as a result of self-harm in 2015/16, an increase of 14% since 2013/14 and 68% across the last decade.

Moreover, the number of young people arriving in A&E with psychiatric problems has doubled since 2009 and the number admitted with eating disorders has risen by almost the same amount in the past three years. 

A worrying trend has been highlighted by a survey conducted in 2016, stating that 93% of teachers reported seeing increased rates of mental illness among children and teenagers and 90% thought the issues were getting more severe.

It’s no wonder then, with the pressures the NHS is continually facing, that more than 7 out of 10 (72%) consultant psychiatrists specialising in treating children and adolescents state that NHS care for under-18s is experiencing a crisis, with mental health either inadequate (58%) or very inadequate (14%).  Only 19% said NHS services were adequate and just a very small 9% said they were good (according to a survey undertaken for the Guardian). 

Experts speculated that the survey of specialist psychiatrists working in Children and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) is further proof of how poor NHS services are for the growing number of children and young people struggling with serious psychological and psychiatric illnesses.

There is no denying a crisis is about to erupt; if it hasn’t already.  Earlier this month, the Guardian disclosed that NHS England is sending under 18s with life-threatening eating disorders for residential care in Scotland because of the shortage of beds, causing additional stress and anxiety to all concerned if friends and family are unable to be with them, offering support whilst they undergo treatment.

Despite a green paper being published later this year addressing young people’s mental health, the government is not providing any additional funding to combat this explosion. This begs the question of how and more importantly, who, is going to treat these valuable and vulnerable people to an above adequate standard of care.

Connect2Kent operate a Qualified Social Worker’s team. This team supply, on a locum basis, qualified social workers across Kent within a range of roles and teams.

As the managed service provider for Kent County Council, we have a range of teams seeking qualified social workers who are able to take on a range of duties and varied case loads.

For more information you can speak to our team on 01622 236748 or check out our website for current opportunities:



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