mental health childThe London School of Economics' expert on happiness is to lead an international inquiry into the causes of childhood mental illness and new methods of support in early life.

One in ten young people under 18, or 220 million worldwide, has a diagnosable mental illness such as depression, anxiety and conduct disorder, and the team led by Professor Richard Layard will seek to find ways to reduce the three times greater risk these younger people have of being involved crime, drug abuse or suicide.

The findings of the global panel of specialists in wellbeing will be presented at the second World Innovation Summit for Health (WISH), to be attended by more than 1,000 health policymakers and specialists from around the world, in Qatar from 17-18 February 2015.

In launching the report, Professor Layard said: “Every society places different pressures on young people, but some challenges are common to children and teenagers the world over. We aim to deliver innovative, evidence-based recommendations that will help global policymakers to provide meaningful support for young people, ensuring their development into happy, productive adults.”

The number of children being admitted to hospital in England for self-harm is at a 5-year high according to recent reports while 95% of imprisoned young offenders have a mental health disorder.

Chief Executive of YoungMinds Sarah Brennan added: “YoungMinds welcomes this investigation led by Professor Layard. Over the last few months we have seen children’s mental health and wellbeing move up the political agenda with the creation of the Children and Young People’s Mental Health and Wellbeing Taskforce and a greater focus by the media on this issue.

"However, we still lack comprehensive data and research on young people’s mental health. We hope this investigation will play an important role in heralding a sea change which leads to greater understanding about young people’s mental health and improved, well resourced provision across the country."

Mental Health and Well-being in Children will be 1 of 7 research streams to be presented at the 2015 WISH Summit, where world leading experts will join an influential community of heads of state, government ministers, clinicians and policy makers and business leaders to discuss innovative solutions to some of the most pressing global health challenges. As well as Mental Health and Well-being in Children, WISH will publish reports on Communicating Complex Health Messages, Diabetes, Dementia, Universal Health Coverage, Delivering Affordable Cancer Care, and Patient Safety.

For more information on WISH visit: