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Talking therapies referral rate double for female teens than males

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The number of young people accessing a national talking therapies programme for people with mental health problems for the first time is steadily increasing, with teenage girls more than twice as likely to be referred as their male counterparts, new data has revealed.

According to the latest data available from the Health and Social Care Information Centre, new referrals among under 18 yea olds has risen from around 4,000 between October and December in 2013 to 6,000 the same time a year later.

Overall, in 2013-14 there were around 51,000 referrals of 15-19 year olds to the Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) programme.

“Referral rates for psychological therapies are rising but this data refers only to referrals to the IAPT programme…The actual number seeking help from CAMHS is likely to be far in excess of this”

David Cottrell

Of these, 34,000 referrals were female, more than double the number of referrals for male teenagers of the same age – 16,000.

David Cottrell, professor of child and adolescent psychiatry at Leeds Institute of Health Science, noted that child and adolescent mental health was a topic of “real concern” but that there was almost no systematic data in this area.

He warned that the IAPT data was only part of the picture and that other mental health services for young people would show even higher rates of referral.

“Referral rates for psychological therapies are rising but this data refers only to referrals to the Improving Access to Psychological Therapies programme and does not include data from mainstream child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS),” he said.

The actual number seeking help from CAMHS is likely to be far in excess of the numbers quoted here,” he said.

The snapshot data, which looked at a range of health and care statistics among young people, also noted physical activity among 13- to 15-year-olds is falling, with girls having lower levels than boys.

From the most recent data in 2012, just 14% of boys took part in the recommended level of physical activity compared to 28% in 2008.

Meanwhile, only 8% of girls in 2012 had enough exercise, a drop from 14% four years previously.

Other findings include that in only around a fifth of five to 10-year-olds eat their recommended intake of fruit and vegetables, although this has improved since 2003 when around 10% were consuming the correct amount.

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