The worrying prevalence of child and adolescent emotional difficulties is now widely recognised. The often quoted figure given by the UK Office of National Statistics 2004 is that 1 in 10 young people suffer severe mental health problems. There have also been increasing indications that disturbance is being experienced, expressed and therefore picked up by concerned adults at ever earlier stages of development. Primary school staff are receiving children aged 4 and 5 who are already significantly concerning. In January 2008, just under 150,000 children in UK primary schools were assessed as having behavioural, emotional and social difficulties — and this only covers those having Special Educational Needs status of ‘school action plus’ and Special Educational Needs statements. Therefore the total number of children with such difficulties is likely to be far higher (DCSF 2008). In UK national statistics and in the study by Meltzer et al. (2000), it has been found that 10% of boys and 5% of girls aged 5 to 10 have a mental disorder, and by the age of 11 to 16 the proportions were 13% for boys and 10% for girls.
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