Self-harm figures soar in a generation under pressure

Even the under-10s are hurting themselves – with 1,800 treated in hospital in the past decade

More than 1,800 children aged under 10 have been hospitalised for self-harming in the past decade, sparking fears of a generation unable to cope with the pressures of childhood.

Last year alone almost 150 boys and girls aged 10 or under were admitted to hospital for intentional self-harm, including more than 80 pre-school children.

In a sign of a worsening problem, the number of girls and women aged under 25 admitted in the past 10 years has soared by 44 per cent to more than 26,270 in 2010-11. Among boys and men of the same age, the figure has leapt by a third to 11,656. The figures are for hospitals in England.

The Department of Health (DoH) admits that "only a fraction" of cases of self-harm are seen in hospitals, so the true scale of the crisis will be much larger.

"These shocking statistics should act as a wake-up call to everyone who cares about the welfare of young people," said Lucia Russell, the director of campaigns, policy and participation at YoungMinds, a charity which is working with the Government to redesign mental-health services for children. "Self-harm is often dismissed as merely attention-seeking behaviour, but it's a sign that young people are feeling terrible internal pain and are not coping."

According to officials, an episode of self-harm is often triggered by an argument or another upset, but can also be linked to bullying, low self-esteem, and worries about sexual orientation. The Government has promised £32m to improve access to psychological therapies for children and young people over the next four years.

Paul Burstow, a Liberal Democrat health minister, told The Independent on Sunday that, for too long, mental illness among children was overlooked by the NHS. "It has really suffered from being the poor cousin of mental health, which was itself the Cinderella service. It was not a priority for the NHS.

"For half of all mental health problems in this country the symptoms first show during adolescence. Let's look at the early signs and support families with proper therapies. It is about moving to intervene early."

More than one in 10 children aged 15 to 16 report having self-harmed in their lifetime. However, the DoH insists it is "rare for very young children" to self harm. A million children will have a diagnosable mental-health disorder. Childhood mental illness costs up to £59,000 per child every year.

The rise in hospital admissions has been steepest among women aged 17 to 25, rising by 50 per cent between 2001 and 2011.

Separate figures released last week show 40,000 under-25s were rushed to A&E in 2009-10 after self-harming, up from 36,000 in 2007-08.

Earlier this year, the Government launched a new strategy, No Health Without Mental Health, to tackle the problem. Officials are working with young people, parents and YoungMinds to redesign specialist services for children, focussing initially on cognitive behavioural therapy and parenting therapy.

Ministers hope to reduce by as much as 40 per cent the number of people in adulthood who have mental health problems. The economic and social costs of mental health in the UK are almost £100bn.

Last month a study by the charity Mind warned that a combination of rising demand and spending cuts was threatening the viability of mental health services.

ebooks
ebookA delicious collection of 50 meaty main courses
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment
Billie Piper as Brona in Penny Dreadful
tvReview: It’s business as usual in Victorian London. Let’s hope that changes as we get further into the new series spoiler alert
Life and Style
A nurse tends to a recovering patient on a general ward at The Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham
health
News
Fans take a selfie with Ed Miliband in Kempston, near Bedford, on Tuesday
election 2015
Arts and Entertainment
No Offence
tvReview: No Offence has characters who are larger than life and yet somehow completely true to life at the same time spoiler alert
News
Chuck Norris pictured in 1996
people
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Ashdown Group: IT Project Coordinator (Software Development) - Kingston

    £45000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Project Coordinator (Software Dev...

    Ashdown Group: Editor-in-chief - Financial Services - City, London

    £60000 - £70000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...

    Ashdown Group: Junior Application Support Analyst - Fluent German Speaker

    £25000 - £30000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: A global leader operating...

    Ashdown Group: Accountant - London - £48,000 - 12 month FTC

    £40000 - £48000 per annum + bonus + benefits: Ashdown Group: International Acc...

    Day In a Page

    General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

    Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

    He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
    General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

    On the margins

    From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
    Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

    'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

    Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
    Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

    Why patients must rely less on doctors

    Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'
    Sarah Lucas is the perfect artist to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale

    Flesh in Venice

    Sarah Lucas has filled the British pavilion at the Venice Biennale with slinky cats and casts of her female friends' private parts. It makes you proud to be a woman, says Karen Wright
    11 best anti-ageing day creams

    11 best anti-ageing day creams

    Slow down the ageing process with one of these high-performance, hardworking anti-agers
    Juventus 2 Real Madrid 1: Five things we learnt, including Iker Casillas is past it and Carlos Tevez remains effective

    Juventus vs Real Madrid

    Five things we learnt from the Italian's Champions League first leg win over the Spanish giants
    Ashes 2015: Test series looks a lost cause for England... whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket

    Ashes series looks a lost cause for England...

    Whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket, says Stephen Brenkley
    Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

    Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

    Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

    Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
    China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

    China's influence on fashion

    At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
    Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

    The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

    Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
    Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

    Rainbow shades

    It's all bright on the night
    'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

    Bread from heaven

    Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
    Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

    How 'the Axe' helped Labour

    UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power