Figures show that the age at which individuals are beginning to self-harm is becoming younger and younger. In 2010, 150 girls and boys below the age of ten – 80 below preschool age, were hospitalised for harming themselves intentionally.
The number of females and males admitted to hospitals in England under the age of 25 has also seen an increase in the past 10 years, with the number of females increasing by 44 per cent and the number of males increasing by a third in the same period.
The Department of Health has warned that these figures could only be the tip of the iceberg, with the number of unreported cases of self-harm meaning the actual figures could be far greater.
Experts believe that commonly self-harm is triggered by an argument, another cause of distress, bullying, low self-esteem and/or uncertainly regarding sexual orientation.
In order to tackle this growing problem, the Government has promised £32m to improving access to psychological therapies for children and young people over the next few years. Health minister Paul Burstow has also spoken up about the topic of dealing with mental illness among children, and speaking to The Independent on Sunday has said that it is an area that has not previously been 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.” Said Burstow.
With an estimated one in 10 children between the ages of 15 and 16 having self-harmed, one million children suffering from a mental-health disorder and childhood mental illness costing a staggering £59,000 per child each year, more really needs to be done to prevent this problem from further growth.
Though it is only a small step, earlier this year the Government launched a new mental health strategy ‘No Health Without Mental Health’, with parents and YoungMinds set to redesign specialist mental health services for children. The new focus will initially be cognitive behavioural therapy and parenting therapy.
If you or someone you know have been effected by self-harm and you would like to find out about how counselling could help you, please visit our counselling for self-harm fact sheet for further information.
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