Last week’s release of an extensive dataset from NHS Digital regarding the Mental Health of Children and Young People in England – see here – offers fascinating, if troubling, insights on the wellbeing of the nation’s children.

By way of illustration it shows that among 17 to 19-year-old young women surveyed, nearly one in four had a mental disorder and just over one in five an emotional disorder. Roughly one in two of those women with a disorder reported had self-harmed or made a suicide attempt. The examination of how modern phenomenon such as the perceived impact of social media can also be found among the dataset’s findings.

This analysis – the first since 2004 – was based on a sample size of 9,117 children and young people, ending last year. While its conclusions undoubtedly make sobering reading, their publication should be welcomed nonetheless.

Many will hope their newfound availability can serve as a catalyst for an increased willingness from Government and the wider public sector to utilise datasets of comparable scale. The Department for Education’s National Pupil database (see here) serves another such example of rigorous work that could effectively inform policymaking in future.

As an outfit dedicated to harnessing the tools of economics to help other charities understand their own impact, Pro Bono Economics has first-hand experience of how robust and extensive data can build awareness of some of society’s most pressing problems. Just as importantly they often provide clues regarding how they can be addressed.

We therefore look forward to seeing how the contents of such datasets can help inform and improve actions designed to improve our nation’s wellbeing moving forward.