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By Newsdesk

Thursday, December 8, 2011.

A new study has raised alarm over the increasing rate at which young people in Britain are harming themselves. By 2020, 100,000 children and young people could be hospitalised each year because of self-harm according to the figures revealed by the UK’s leading children and young people’s mental health charity, YoungMinds.

The figures obtained in a parliamentary question by Liberal Democrat MP Jo Swinson reveal that in England over the last ten years inpatient admissions for young people have increased by 68% due to self-harm. Last year alone, hospital inpatient admissions for under-25s increased by 10% due to self-harm, and amongst females under-25 there has been a 77% increase in the last ten years in inpatient admissions due to self-harm.

Lucie Russell Director of Campaigns, Policy and Participation, YoungMinds said:
“These shocking statistics should act as a wake-up call to everyone who cares about the welfare of young people. More and more children and young people are using self-harm as a mechanism to cope with the pressures of life and this just isn’t acceptable. 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.

Ms Russell points out that many young Brits today are growing up in a harsh environment with ever increasing stress to perform at school, next to zero job prospects and the constant pressure to keep up with the latest consumer trends. Social networking although creating ever greater circles of ‘friends’, she says, often leaves young people feeling even more isolated and alone.

“Everyone should take responsibility for the next generation if we don’t want these projected figures to become a reality, parents need the tools to give their children the necessary support, schools need to place much more emphasis on teaching emotional resilience and coping skills and services that intervene early when mental health problems first arise need to be given much greater priority and appropriate investment,” she said.

Jo Swinson, Liberal Democrat MP for East Dunbartonshire said:
“Worryingly these figures are only the tip of the iceberg as they only record hospital inpatient admissions. The true figure of how many children and young people are self-harming is likely to be far far higher.”

Ms Swinson whose Liberal Democrat party is a partner in the ruling coalition says the Government has rightly recognised the importance in the new mental health strategy of supporting children and young people when problems first arise, but she argues that we need to make sure that this is happening at a local level.

“We must look as a society at what pressure we put young people under. The constant pressure to look and act in a certain way in order to be accepted is greatly affecting children and young people today.”

Any parent or carer who is worried that their child might be self-harming should call the YoungMinds Parents’ Helpline on
0808 802 5544

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