The number of children referred to the NHS with serious mental health problems is at an all-time high, say doctors.
The Royal College of Psychiatrists warned that the pandemic could create a ‘lost’ generation who will be affected by ‘lifelong’ mental illnesses.
Doctors blamed the crisis on school closures, cancelled exams and lockdowns.
NHS figures revealed that the number of youngsters referred to child and adolescent mental health services was 4,615 per 100,000 – the highest on record.
The figures are up nearly 20 per cent from last year.
Dr Bernadka Dubicka, of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, said: ‘Landmark occasions in the lives of these young people will be lost.
‘This adds to a perfect storm of a pre-existing mental health crisis, rising demand and years of under-investment in children’s mental health services, meaning children may not get the help they need, potentially leaving a generation lost to poverty and lifelong mental illness.’