Skip to main content
Creating a new NHS England: NHS England and NHS Digital merged on 1 February 2023. More about the merger.

National Study of Health and Wellbeing: Children and Young People

The 2021 survey aims to follow up parents, children and young people that took part in the 2017 survey. These children will now be aged 6 to 23. It will cover around 7,800 children and young people living in private households in England who gave their consent in the 2017 survey to be re-contacted. We last followed up these children in July 2020.  

Publication series

The publication series includes links to the latest report and all previous reports published by NHS Digital. The Mental Health of Children and Young People in England 2021 (follow up to the 2017 survey) publication is due on 30 September 2021. In the latest follow up survey, the weighting strategy for 2017 data has been updated, therefore results for 2017 in the 2021 follow up survey vary slightly compared to those reported in the 2020 follow up survey. Read more about the methodology change.

Interactive reports present time series data for common mental disorders. Three years of comparable data is available for 5 to 15-year olds living in England. 

About the survey

The survey series is funded by the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC). UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) are also co-funding the 2021 follow up survey.

The first time this national survey was carried out was in 1999. Since then two more surveys have been commissioned in 2004 and 2017. Each survey year provides a new sample of children and young people and allows us to monitor trends over time. However, to create a greater understanding, we also follow up with children and young people from each survey year to understand changes. A follow up survey of the 2017 children was carried out in July 2020, and a further follow up is taking place in 2021.

The 2017 survey collected information to look at how common different kinds of health, developmental and emotional disorders are. We were interested in factors associated with good health, development and wellbeing, as well as the things associated with poor health, development and wellbeing.

The 2020 and the 2021 surveys are a follow up of children and young people that took part in 2017 and gave their permission to be re-contacted. The information collected will help to understand changes in mental health, development and emotional disorders in time. The survey is also taking place during the coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19) and will provide valuable information about the impact of the pandemic, lockdown and school closures on children and young peoples’ wellbeing.

Why we do the survey

The survey asks about a range of topics to do with development, health and emotional wellbeing. The information will improve understanding of how different experiences can impact on health and wellbeing.  Over time, and for many different reasons, there can be changes in the health and wellbeing of both young adults and children. 

The survey helps policy makers, researchers, doctors and other health professionals get a clearer picture of the nation's health and wellbeing. It gives them the information to make the right choices for the future. The survey is used in policy development, in planning services and in monitoring trends and changes in the health and wellbeing of children and young people.

Managing the survey

NHS Digital are the data controller for the survey. The survey is being carried out by NatCen Social Research and the Office for National Statistics who are co-data processors.

Survey review

The 2017 survey has been reviewed by an independent group of people called a Research Ethics Committee (REC), to protect the safety, rights, wellbeing and dignity of those taking part. The West London REC (reference 16/LO/0155) gave this survey a favourable opinion.

The 2020 follow up survey has been reviewed via correspondence by the National Statistician’s Data Ethics Advisory Committee (reference NSDEC(20)13) and was given a favourable outcome. An amendment was submitted and approved in January 2021 to include the follow up survey.   


For the 2017 survey we chose children and young people at random to make sure we get a truly representative picture of everyone in England. 

The 2020 and the 2021 surveys are a follow up of children and young people that took part in the 2017 survey and agreed to be re-contacted.

What the survey involves

If you’ve received a letter asking you to take part, it's because either yourself or someone in your household took part in the 2017 survey and agreed to be re-contacted. 

Taking part is voluntary, and if you do take part you can answer as many or as few questions as you like. By taking part you will help the NHS, policymakers and charities make the right decisions for children and young people’s health and wellbeing during and after the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. 

If you are a parent or carer, the online questionnaire should take about 20 minutes to complete. It asks about a range of things about you and your child. These include general health and wellbeing and things about your current circumstances and life experiences during the coronavirus pandemic. Ideally, we would like the adult who took part in 2017, or the adult who took part in the 2020 follow up survey, to take part again, although this is not essential.

If your child is aged between 11 and 16 on 31 August 2021, after you have finished your questionnaire we will ask your child to also answer an online questionnaire. This should take about 10 minutes, and asks about their health and wellbeing, as well as their contact with family and friends, feelings about their body and eating and their experiences and thoughts during the coronavirus pandemic.

If you're aged between 17 and 23, the online questionnaire should take about 20 minutes to complete and asks about your health and wellbeing, feelings about your body and eating, as well as your current circumstances and your experiences and thoughts during the coronavirus pandemic.  

Data collected

The 2021 follow up survey collects information about:

  • health and well being 
  • social media use
  • service use and available support
  • education and resources
  • feeling about body and eating
  • experiences during the coronavirus pandemic

What we do with the answers

Your answers will be completely confidential and nobody can be identified from the results we publish. They are completely anonymous. 

The answers you give will be put together with the answers collected from thousands of other people across England and the answers you gave in 2017 and if you took part in 2020. Anything that could identify you, such as name, address and date of birth will be removed. The survey findings will be anonymised. The statistics will be published in a report and tables which will be freely available on our website.

If you agree, we would like to link your responses to this survey to other data held about you by NHS Digital, Department for Education and the Office for National Statistics. This includes information that NHS Digital and the Office for National Statistics maintain on your NHS health record including in-patient/out-patient care, primary care, diagnostic care, mental health, cancer and records for when and the reason why people pass away. The Department for Education maintains information on your child’s education record, including educational achievement, absence, exclusions and special educational needs.   

This linkage allows research into how a person’s lifestyle and experiences can have an impact on their future health and education. By doing so, we can create evidence to inform decisions to improve services and policies which affect all children and families in England. If you want to remove your consent you can contact us at any time and no linkage will be conducted from that point on. 

What we do with the data

The data will be treated as confidential, as directed by the UK Statistics Authority's code of practice for official statistics.

An anonymised and reduced version of the dataset will be made, so your name, address, date of birth, and other information that might directly identify you is removed. In addition, other data are removed or categorised into groups that are less detailed to ensure the risk of disclosure is remote. This process of disclosure control follows Government Statistical Service guidance.

This anonymised and disclosure-controlled dataset will be made available to national and local government and for the purposes of not-for-profit research. An anonymised version of the 1999, 2004 and 2017 data can be accessed by researchers via the UK Data Service Website

For access to the 2017 dataset, researchers will need to apply for access via the NHS Digital Data Access Request Service. If this is approved the UK Data Service will grant the researcher access to the data. 

The dataset is available to researchers in the UK, EEA or those from a country with a suitable adequacy agreement. Requests from researchers from other countries will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis.

To find out more about the methods of accessing this data set, visit our DARS population health surveys page.

Further studies

In the future, we may want to contact you about follow-up research on mental health and wellbeing. We will only invite you to take part in follow-up research if you give consent during the survey for this. We will carefully review all proposals from researchers/organisations to conduct follow-up research before giving approval. We will not pass on any of your details without your permission. NHS Digital will not approve any requests that are for commercial use. If you are invited to take part in any future studies, you will be free to refuse if you do not want to take part. If you want to remove your consent at any time you can contact us at anytime and we will update our records.


The content of the 2020 and the 2021 survey was designed following consultation with various stakeholders, including Department of Health and Social Care, NHS England, Public Health England, Children’s Commissioner, Department for Education and academics and charities involved in mental health. 

Prior to the 2017 survey, a consultation for the survey content was conducted. Download the consultation report.


Subscribe to our bulletins to receive the latest information about our surveys.  Manage your preferences on our bulletins subscription page.

Further information

Last edited: 27 January 2022 12:50 pm