In the last three years there has been a 15% rise of antidepressants being prescribed to children in Britain. Scotland’s figure has increased by 10% and Northern Ireland rose by 6%. However, rather than signalling a decline in children’s mental health, this actually shows an incline in the quality of treatment on offer to children.
Chair of the child and adolescent faculty at the Royal College of Psychiatrists, Dr Bernadka Dubicka said to the BBC: “Currently only one in four children and young people are treated for their mental health problems.” She added that. “The fact that prescriptions for antidepressants are rising could reflect a slow but steady move towards treating everyone who is unwell.”
The Mental Health Foundation has found that 20% of adolescents may experience a mental health problem in any given year and 50% of these cases will have arisen by the age of 15.
950,000 prescriptions were issued between April 2015 and March 2018, however, there is speculation as to whether this number should be increasing at all. The BBC also reported on the death of Reece Burrowes, who was found dead after committing suicide days after being prescribed Sertraline. It was soon proved that NICE (National Institute For Health and Care Excellence) guidelines had not been followed in order to avoid a potentially long waiting list for a more popular drug, Camhs.
The Department of Health in England told the BBC it had pledged £1.7bn to transform Camhs in order to provide a wider access to more therapies. This would not prevent patients who would benefit from antidepressants from receiving the treatment they need.