According to a new study of almost 360,000 patients aged 6 to 18 years old in Wales, there has been a large increase in the prescription of antidepressants to children and young people over the past ten years (
The Independent online, 9 September 2016).
When antidepressants are prescribed to children, it is crucial that both they and their parents have comprehensive information about the effects that they can have. In 2014, however, YoungMinds conducted a survey which found that half of young people taking medicines were unhappy with the information they had received.
For that reason we set up HeadMeds.org.uk. It is aimed at young people aged between 13–25 years and contains comprehensive and accessible information about the effects that mental health medicines can have, including answers to questions like “Will this affect my sex life?” and “Can I drink alcohol with this”? It also includes real life stories in which people explain how their medicines affects them.
The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence guidelines suggest that antidepressants can have a place in treating some mental health problems among young people, in combination with psychological therapies. As prescription rates continue to rise, we hope that HeadMeds will help children and parents make informed decisions about whether medication is the right approach. We encourage pharmacists to signpost young patients taking mental health medicines to the website.
Media and campaigns manager