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Pupils: Mental Health

Volume 463: debated on Thursday 19 July 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families what his latest estimate is of the number of school age pupils who have been prescribed drugs for (a) depression, (b) behaviour control and (c) mental health problems in each year from 1996-97 to 2006-07; and if he will make a statement. (149151)

I have been asked to reply.

Information is not available on the number of school-aged children who have been prescribed medication for depression, behaviour control or other mental health problems. However, data are available on the number of prescriptions dispensed to children under 16 years and those aged 16 to 18 years in full time education.

Antidepressant drugs are classified under British National Formulary (BNF) section 4.3.

BNF 4.3: Antidepressant drugs

Financial year

Items under 16

Items 16 to 18 in full time education

1996-97

78,353

92,569

1997-98

86,796

109,862

1998-99

83,070

108,846

1999-2000

86,152

104,256

2000-01

99,299

119,645

2001-02

112,914

130,887

2002-03

119,566

144,331

2003-04

104,733

144,607

2004-05

94,905

122,246

2005-06

107,965

107,268

2006-07

109,535

103,023

Drugs for behaviour control are classified under BNF section 4.4: Central Nervous System (CNS) stimulants and drugs used for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. This section also contains Modafil which is used for daytime sleepiness associated with chronic pathological conditions including narcolepsy, obstructive sleep apnoea syndrome, and chronic shift work.

BNF 4.4: CNS stimulants and drugs used for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder

Financial year

Items under 16

Items 16 to 18 in full time education

1996-97

48,264

2,058

1997-98

86,247

3,388

1998-99

112,294

4,596

1999-2000

144,894

7,698

2000-01

171,244

7,873

2001-02

200,202

9,225

2002-03

247,115

11,935

2003-04

289,009

17,218

2004-05

338,909

24,906

2005-06

379,334

31,694

2006-07

454,797

40,339

Drugs for mental health problems are classified in BNF section 4.2: Drugs used in psychoses and related disorders.

BNF 4.2: Drugs used in psychoses and related disordersFinancial yearItems under 16Items 16 to 18 in full time education1996-9719,46625,0381997-9821,36827,8071998-9922,66622,4841999-200022,49418,2422000-0126,18719,3382001-0227,29918,3322002-0335,08919,6662003-0438,68723,6952004-0547,34027,5022005-0659,83426,0022006-0766,96129,954 Notes:1. PCA data: Prescription information is taken from the Prescription Cost Analysis (PCA) system, supplied by the Prescription Pricing Division (PPD) of the Business Services Authority (BSA), and is based on a full analysis of all prescriptions dispensed in the community, i.e. by community pharmacists and appliance contractors, dispensing doctors, and prescriptions submitted by prescribing doctors for items personally administered in England. Also included are prescriptions written in Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland and the Isle of Man but dispensed in England. The data do not cover drugs dispensed in hospitals, including mental health trusts, or private prescriptions.2. Prescription items: Prescriptions are written on a prescription form. Each single item written on the form is counted as a prescription item.3. Exemption category estimates: The exemption data are identified from the box ticked on the back of the prescription form and rely on the form being completed correctly which may not always be the case. Information for categories that are not required to pay a charge (e.g. children) is based on a one in 20 sample of all exempt prescriptions dispensed by community pharmacists, appliance contractors and dispensing doctors. The information we have is therefore an estimate and subject to sampling errors. Children are defined as 0 to 15-year-olds, and as 16 to 18-year-olds in full-time education.4. Dispensing doctors: Data up to 2000 are not strictly comparable with data from later years. Up until September 2000 only patients having their prescriptions dispensed by the community pharmacists and appliance contractors were required to complete the back of the prescription form, but from October 2000 this requirement was extended to patients of dispensing doctors. Therefore data prior to October 2000 do not include prescriptions dispensed by dispensing doctors.5. BNF classifications: The Prescription Cost Analysis system uses the therapeutic classifications defined in the British National Formulary (BNF). No information on why a drug is prescribed is available and since drugs can be prescribed to treat more than one condition it is impossible to separate the different conditions that a drug was prescribed for.