Across the UK, the number of children and young people experiencing mental health problems is growing especially following the Covid pandemic. Mental health services are expanding, but not fast enough to meet rising needs, leaving many children and young people with limited or no support. Too little is known about who receives support and who might be missing out.
To address this, Networked Data Lab (NDL) teams across England, Scotland and Wales have analysed local, linked data sources to explore trends in mental health presentations across primary, specialist and acute services.
Analysis in Leeds highlights key areas for further investigation, nationally and locally:
- Adolescent girls and young women are using mental health services more than boys and young men with around 25% of those aged 17-22 are likely to have mental health disorder.
- There is a stark contrast between areas of different socioeconomic deprivation.
- To inform national policy decisions and local service planning and delivery, the quality of data collection, analysis, and the linkage of datasets across services and sectors need to be improved.
- People are less likely to drop out of services if seen virtually and access to services must be easier.
High-quality data and analysis will play a crucial role in targeting preventative interventions, planning services, and improving children and young people’s mental health. In Leeds we have already started to look at how we can improve the quality of data which was an immediate biproduct of this analysis.
The development of integrated care system (ICS) intelligence platforms with fully linked datasets across primary, secondary, mental health, social and community care, will be a major step forward.
Helen McGlinchey, Head of Service & Clinical Lead – Schools Northpoint Wellbeing said: ‘It has been a fantastic opportunity for Northpoint to be able to work with the NDL. As a provider it is crucial that we can collate and flow quality patient data to best support children and young people’s mental health. The NDL were able to analyse our data journey, understand the key factors that had enabled us to improve our data quality and supported us to identify further areas for improvement going forwards. We hope the report and our learning will help support other services to improve MHSDS data quality for children and young people’.
Ben Alcock, Interim Project Lead, Leeds Lab, said: ‘The Networked Data Lab has benefitted Leeds in a number of ways: with its focused aim it has given us momentum and assistance in working with existing data sets in new ways, allowing us to investigate more deeply the health needs of the people of Leeds. On an engagement level the programme has been invaluable in allowing new ways of working; leading us to work more closely with providers and patients than before, influencing analysts to look at things that are important at both a person and system level.’
The Networked Data Lab is a collaborative of advanced analytical teams across the UK. They are working together on shared challenges and promoting the use of analytics to improve health and social care. Thanks to the Leeds Data Model, the NHS in Leeds and Leeds City Council are one of five partners across the country who have successfully bid to take part in the initiative.
The project will look at how partners can work together to use data to improve health and care in the UK, including addressing COVID-19 and widening health and care inequalities. It will do this by identifying and analysing three data sets over three years.