Children are facing a 'double epidemic' of obesity and social media anxiety

Simon Stevens said the issues were key priorities as the health service

Simon Stevens said the issues were key priorities as the health service

Children are facing a 'double epidemic' of obesity and social media anxiety, the head of NHS England has warned.

Simon Stevens said the issues were key priorities as the health service, which is marking its 70th year, looks to the future.

But he said technology companies and social media giants share responsibility for addressing the mental health issues affecting children.

In his keynote address at the NHS Confederation's annual conference in Manchester, Mr Stevens said the NHS was having to confront a 'double epidemic affecting our children'.

'It is obvious that there is more unmet need for young people's mental health services than probably any other part of the health service,' he told the audience.

'The conversation, though, around young people's mental health has got to be wider than just about what the NHS can do.

'This is certainly about schools, but we also have to ask some pretty searching questions around the role technology companies, social media, and the impact that that is having on childhood.

'So, this cannot be a conversation that is simply left to the National Health Service to pick up the pieces - for an epidemic of mental health challenge for our young people induced by many other actors across our economy.'

A fifth of adolescents experience a mental health problem in any given year and experts say their prevalence is becoming increasingly common.

Earlier this week a coalition of charities called for social media firms to have a ‘duty of care’ - enshrined by law - to protect children from potential mental health conditions.

They said the sites were responsible for increases in online bullying, internet addiction and self-harm among children which

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