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Young people’s experiences of in-patient mental health care

Helplines insight briefing

Publication date February 2024

Mental health is as important to a child’s safety and wellbeing as their physical health.

The experiences of children hospitalised or sectioned for mental health can vary. Listening to the child’s perspective can provide valuable insight for creating a child-centred approach to mental healthcare.

This briefing outlines what young people spoke to Childline about when discussing being sectioned or hospitalised for their mental health.

Key themes include:

  • admittance to in-patient care, voluntarily or after being sectioned
  • hospital environment and receiving inadequate support
  • involvement in own care while in hospital, including discharge decision
  • the after-effects of having been hospitalised.
Young people’s experiences of in-patient mental health care
Download the briefing (PDF)
“I can’t be in this stupid hospital anymore. I feel like I have no control over anything apart from what I eat and drink. Nobody’s listening to me.”

Girl, aged 17
“My parents put a lot of pressure on me to revise right after I returned from the hospital. And they tell me I might never get a decent job if I keep having these crises, as if I were to blame for them. I feel like anxiety is controlling my life and that I will never achieve my dreams because of my mental health issues. The only thing keeping me going is my friends and Childline.”

Girl, age not disclosed


Please cite as: NSPCC (2024) Young people’s experiences of in-patient mental health care. London: NSPCC

Childline and NSPCC Helpline insight briefings

Our insight briefings use data and insight from Childline counselling sessions and NSPCC Helpline contacts to explore concerns children and young people have raised and how these affect them.

See the full series