A review of recent evidence into children and young people's mental health

Lorraine Khan

7 June 2016


On average, children and young people with mental health difficulties go ten years between first becoming unwell and getting any help.

Missed Opportunities finds that mental health problems are common among young people (affecting one in ten, or an average three in every classroom), but that awareness is poor and most attempts by parents to get help are unsuccessful.

Providing a comprehensive overview of mental health from ages 0-25, the report highlights that there is an average delay of a decade in children receiving help. This decade of delay sees their problems multiply and get progressively worse, eventually escalating into a crisis. Moreover, whilst three-quarters of parents whose children are experiencing mental ill-health seek help, only one-quarter of children receive any support.

Key points 

Lorraine Khan, author of the report, explains the findings in a number of YouTube clips which you can watch below:



You can also watch clips of:

The review finds that some groups of children and young people face especially high risks for poor mental health. They include children who have been subjected to neglect and abuse, children who are bullied or who bully, and children whose parents have mental health problems. Groups with higher rates of poor mental health also include lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender young people, those in the youth justice system and those who have been looked after by local authorities.

Missed opportunities highlights that childhood mental health problems can cast a long shadow, well into adult life. However, it also finds that most common childhood mental health problems can be treated effectively, if early and effective help is provided.

Missed opportunities is available as a full report, an executive summary, and as individual chapters. These are all free to download below. Please consider making a donation to enable us to carry out further life-changing research.

Free to download as a whole report, or as separate chapters, below.

Download Missed opportunities PDF (3.4MB)

Download Missed opportunities - Executive summary PDF (1.5MB)

Download Missed opportunities - 0-4 years PDF (1.5MB)

Download Missed opportunities - 5-10 years PDF (1.6MB)

Download Missed opportunities - 11-15 years PDF (1.5MB)

Download Missed opportunities - 16-25 years PDF (1.6MB)

Download Missed opportunities - Reference list PDF (1.3MB)

Read more about the launch of Missed opportunities here.