The Health and Social Care Information Centre has revealed that around 6,500 children (most of whom were female) aged 10-14 had been treated after self-harming in the last two years. These figures are up 2,700 from 2009-2012, when numbers were holding steady at 3,800 a year.
Sue Minto, head of Childline describes self-harming as a coping mechanism and says 20 years ago she only came across it in sexual abuse cases. These days however, Sue says it is being used by children who are trying to cope with a wide range of issues.
Lucie Russell from YoungMinds charity believes one contributing factor is today’s 24/7 online culture.
“This has never happened before. It is the pressures of the modern world and some of these pressures are unprecedented.
“Young people feel it never lets up. Online they create a brand — brand me — which says I have loads of friends and this is how I look. They feel the need for constant reassurance from others and there is no privacy anymore.”
A spokeswoman from the Department of Health commented on the issue, saying that they are spending £54m to help boost young people’s access to psychological therapies. She also mentioned that they have invested £3m in a website called MindEd which looks to support people looking after children so they can spot any signs of mental health problems early on.
Self-harming can take many forms, from cutting and scratching to punching and even burning. If you suspect your child or someone you know might be self-harming, it is important to show your support and encourage them to seek professional help.