Diagnoses of mental health and behavioral conditions have risen since the emergence of the coronavirus

Diagnoses of mental health and behavioral conditions have risen since the emergence of the coronavirus

  • A total of 1.6 million children are now classified as disabled, up by a third since Covid
  • Nearly 140,000 children received payments for behavioral disorders last year



Diagnoses of mental health and behavioral conditions such as ADHD have risen since the emergence of coronavirus, with one in nine children now reported to have a disability.

There are now 1.6 million children classified as disabled, up by more than a third since Covid – with a 144 per cent increase in the number of children receiving benefits for behavioral disorders such as ADHD and autism, according to official data.

An increased willingness to diagnose behavioral problems as disorders and a rise in mental health problems among young people has been blamed.

About 11 percent of children reported a life-limiting condition lasting more than a year in 2021-2022, compared to eight percent in 2019-2020, and six percent ten years ago.

Department for Work and Pensions data shows a 69 per cent increase in disability benefits claimed for children in the past decade, compared with an overall rise of 10 per cent in claimants.

Diagnoses of mental health and behavioral conditions such as ADHD have risen since Covid, with one in nine children now reported to have a disability (stock image)
About 11 per cent of children reported a life-limiting condition lasting more than a year in 2021-2022, compared to eight per cent in 2019-2020 and six per cent ten years ago (stock image)

Child claimants have also risen by 17 per cent since the pandemic compared to 3 per cent overall, The Times reported.

Ministers are concerned that child disability payments have risen to £3 billion and are expected to reach £5 billion by 2030, potentially creating a generation dependent on benefits.

More than 650,000 children receive disability allowance, with just under half of claims related to learning difficulties, an increase of 37 per cent in five years.

Behavioral disorders — such as ADHD — have more than doubled in that time, with nearly 140,000 children receiving payments for behavioral disorders last year.

Sam Ray Chowdhury of the Institute for Fiscal Studies said measures such as lockdown were likely to exacerbate the previous trend of deteriorating young people’s mental health.

“For young people, Covid has had the biggest impact on mental health rather than physical – lockdowns, school disruptions, there has been a huge rise in absenteeism,” he told The Times.

“So it seems plausible that there would be a decline in mental health during that period.”

The number of children claiming disability benefits has also risen by 17 percent since the pandemic compared to three percent overall, The Times reported.
Sam Ray Chowdhury of the Institute for Fiscal Studies said measures such as lockdown were likely to intensify the previous trend of deteriorating young people’s mental health (stock image)

Lucy Foulkes, a psychologist at Oxford University whose work has been influential in government, said there was greater awareness pushing people to get help.

“The threshold for what can be considered a mental health problem or illness has changed, so people are looking for support for milder versions of the same problem,” she said. I think those two things are probably happening simultaneously.

A government spokesman said: “We know that awareness of autism and other neurodevelopmental conditions has increased significantly over the past decade, and we have seen a rise in the numbers of children and young people seeking a formal diagnosis.”

“We are committed to a welfare system that supports the most vulnerable but is fair to taxpayers, and all benefits are subject to claimants who meet the eligibility criteria.”

(tags for translation)mental health

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