Skip to main content


EACEA National Policies Platform


7. Health and Well-Being

7.1 General context

Last update: 22 January 2021

LAST MODIFIED ON: 11/09/2020 - 12:56

On this page
  1. Main trends in the health conditions of young people
  2. Main concepts

Main trends in the health conditions of young people

Smoking, drinking and drug use amongst young people are key public health concerns. NHS Digital, an executive non-departmental public body, sponsored by the Department of Health, conducts surveys which provide information used by central and local government to better understand these behaviours and to develop policies, plan services and new initiatives, and to monitor and evaluate their impact.

Results from the 2018 survey Smoking, Drinking and Drug Use among Young People in England, covering secondary school pupils aged 11 to 15. It covers a range of topics including prevalence, habits, attitudes, and for the first time in 2018, wellbeing.  It shows the current prevalence of smoking, drinking and drug use:

  • 16 per cent of 11-15 year old pupils had ever smoked, which is down from 19 per cent in 2016.
  • 10 per cent of pupils said they had drunk alcohol in the last week. This varied from 2% of 11 year olds and 3% of 12 year olds, to 23% of 15 year olds.
  • 22% of 15 year olds reported having been drunk in the last four weeks
  • 24 per cent of pupils reported they had ever taken drugs which remains consistent with the 2016 data. 
  • 40% of recent smokers reported low life satisfaction nowadays. This compares to 18% for all pupils.

This report, published in 2019, is the latest report released at the time of writing (august 2020). The Smoking Drinking and Drug Use Survey 2020 fieldwork will not go ahead in the autumn 2020 term (academic year 2020/21) due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Read more here

In 2018, the conception rate for women under 18 years decreased for the 11th year in a row, the longest continued decrease since records began. 

  • In 2018, conception rates for under 18-year-olds in England and Wales declined by 6.1% to 16.8 conceptions per 1,000 women aged 15 to 17 years. Compared to 2016 where the rates were 18.9 conceptions per 1000 women aged 15-17 years. 
  • Conception rates declined from 2.7 conceptions per 1,000 women aged under 16 years in 2017 to 2.5 in 2018, a 7.4% decrease. 
  • The conception rate for women under 16 years has fallen every year since 2007, and has decreased by 69.9% since 1999.

Source: Conceptions in England and Wales: 2018. [released 4 March 2020]

Public Health England also provide data covering key health trends, including:

  • The most recent survey of the mental health of children and young people in England found that 12.5% of 5 to 19 year olds had at least one mental disorder when assessed (2017), and 5% met the criteria for 2 or more mental disorders. There also appears to be a slight increase over time in the prevalence of mental disorder in 5 to 15 year olds, rising from 9.7% (1999) to 10.1% (2004) to 11.2% (2017)
  • Rates for hospital admissions for self-harm for 10-24 year olds have risen from 405 in 2016/17 to 421 in 2017/18.
  • In 2018, 24% of pupils reported they had ever taken drugs. This is the same to 2016.
  • Referrals to specialist child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS) increased by 64 per cent between 2012 and 2015.


Main concepts

No particular concepts have been identified.