New figures reveal the impact of poor mental health provision on those most in need

Published on
09 November 2023

The Covid Social Mobility and Opportunities study, released this week, has revealed how young people in some of the most deprived areas of the country are less likely to receive the mental health support they need. Key findings show that:

  • Nearly two in five (39%) young people in the poorest parts of England said they are waiting for, or had not received the mental health support they had applied for, compared to 28% in the most affluent areas. 
  • Those identifying as non-binary+ were more likely to be classified as having high psychological distress (74%) than females (56%) and males (32%), according to the research. 
  • Non-binary young people were also more likely to seek support with their mental health (67%) than females (33%) and males (15%). 

Becky Rice, Barnardo's Senior Policy Advisor on Mental Health, said: 

“As this report outlines, there is an ever-increasing crisis in youth mental health. As the number of children and young people needing support grows and waiting lists just get longer, access to services is fragmented and there is no consistent way to get early support or treatment. 

“Sadly, this report also supports our concerns that certain groups who are more likely to need mental health support, including children and young people living in poverty and those who identify as LGBTQ+, find it the most difficult to get help. This inequality just makes matters worse and can have repercussions long into adulthood. 

“That’s why Barnardo’s is calling for Mental Health Support Teams to be rolled out across all schools and colleges in England. We are also calling for counsellors to be available as part of these teams, to build on the existing support available and provide a tailored approach to support each child’s needs. This could help equip more children and young people to live happily and healthily both now and long into the future.” 

Notes to editors  

Last year Barnardo’s provided essential support to over 357,000 children, young people, parents and carers through more than 790 services and partnerships across the UK.  

We provide vital support to the children and families who need us most, to help with a range of issues including mental health, child sexual abuse and children in care.  

We listen to children and young people and work to bring about positive change so that they can have a brighter future. 

Visit to find out more.  

Call the 24-hour press office number on 020 8498 7555.  

Registered charity No. 216250 and SC037605.  

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