The number of prescriptions given to children aged under 16 for depression and other mental health diagnoses has quadrupled in a decade, according to official figures.
GPs in England wrote more than 631,000 such prescriptions for children in the last financial year, compared to just 146,000 in the mid-1990s.
The figures were obtained by David Laws, the Liberal Democrat shadow children’s secretary.
These figures on child prescriptions follow others which suggest that that the rate of anti-depressant prescriptions for the population as a whole has hit a record high.
The Royal College of General Practitioners’ chairman, Professor Mayur Lakhani, rejected the suggestion that family doctors prescribe anti-depressants too readily.
“GPs consider the need for anti-depressants only after a careful assessment of the patient’s clinical condition,” he told the BBC.