Self-harm in children doubles in six years
This has not been helped by prolonged lockdowns and the daily struggle of home learning continue to increase the number of referrals to adult and child mental health services due to self-harm.
The recently released analysis shows that over the last six years, self-harm among children has doubled.
BBC’s Radio 4’s on 4 programme found that children aged 9-12 admitted to hospital having intentionally hurt themselves rose from 221 (2013-14) to 508 (2019-20).
Self-harm admission are averaging ten a week
Taking population growth into consideration, the admission rate has doubled over the past six years.
Experts say the findings come as the pandemic has had a huge impact on our young people’s mental health. Research in October (2020) found a rise in children with sleep and eating disorders with even longer waits between referral and treatment.
Profession Keith Hawton of psychiatry at Oxford University told that self-harm was “in keeping with what we are finding from our research database. It is almost as though the problem is spreading down the age range.”
“It is important that it is recognised that self-harm can occur in relatively young children, which surprises many. I think it indicates that mental health issues are perhaps increasing in very young age groups.”
Rosamund McNeil, assistant general secretary, the National Education Union, commented the findings are deeply troubling. She said the pandemic had increased mental health difficulties among children and young people, particularly those in poverty, ethnic minorities, and those with pre-existing health conditions. The rising rates of self-harm can now be exacerbated.
The analysis combines File on 4 for hospital admission for self-harm over ten years by ages, cross-referenced with the Office of National Statistics (ONS) to ensure accuracy within the population.
The Guardian investigation discovered that prescriptions for sleeping tablets for under-18’s have risen by 30% to some 186,000 prescriptions during the first lockdown compared to two years ago. Comparatively, they fell for adults.
Place2Be, a charity providing in-school counselling, surveyed 61 secondary schools. They reported that self-harm reports rose 77% from 48 to 85, with suicide ideation increasing by 81% (76) over the summer of 2020.
Young Minds, Emma Thomas; “These alarming findings suggest the virus crisis has had a profound impact on the mental health of our young people. These may include fears about Covid, isolation, loss of structure, grief and traumatic experiences.”
The children’s commissions for England, Anne Longfield, said: “we need NHS trained counsellors in every school, and government plans for training mental health workers will only reach a quarter of schools in three years. These counsellors are really important, but given the level of disruption in our children’s lives, it needs to be prioritised.