The biggest rise has been amongst women aged 16-24, and in 2007 one in eight women admitted they have self harmed, an 80% increase since 2000. More than 6,000 people were admitted to hospital after cutting themselves, also an 80% increase.
The research published by the World Health Organisation highlights how the increasing divide between rich and poor has contributed to a rise in mental health problems, as people strive for an unobtainable celebrity lifestyle.
It is also thought that young people are resorting to more an more extreme measures – such as wrist slitting and over dosing – to communicate their problems.
The figures come despite the fact that the government is spending more than ever on tackling mental illness, in hospitals and communities.
Lynne Friedli, author of the report, said: “We have to face up to the fact that mental well-being depends on reducing the gap between rich and poor. A large divide leads to a mentally unhealthy society, and many associated social problems. In the UK in particular, we’ve failed to acknowledge this link, preferring instead to blame people’s lifestyle choices.”