News - Steep rise in self-harm among teenage girls

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There are reports of a sharp increase in self-harming among females aged 13 to 16, according to a study of data examined for almost 17,000 patients from over 600 GP clinics across the UK.  The study, which examined statistics from 2011-2014, suggested GPs could well be improving at detecting self-harm.   

However, it was also possible that increasing stress and psychological issues in young people were perhaps also behind the trend.

Providing children with support early on may very well be a matter of life or death, according to one children's charity. Ever since 2001, girls experienced much higher rates of self-harm compared to boys i.e. 37.4 per 10, 000 compared to 12.3 in boys.

Although self-harm rates remained stable among 10 to 12 year-olds and 17 to 19 year-olds, there was a 68% rise among 13 to 16 year olds over the three year duration that the study took place. This took the rate in girls from 45.9 per 10,000 in 2011 to 77 per 10,000 in 2014.

One teenager confessed to setting about self-harming when she was 12 years old after being subjected to bullying at school.  She also blamed herself after her dad took her mum to court in a custody dispute.   "I thought it was my fault, I had to be punished for it. And that's when I started self-harming," she explained.   She went on to say, "It was a release, it was painful, but it made me feel better."   For her, things moved from bad to worse at that time as she confided in her closest friend about how she felt.   "She told her boyfriend at the time and then he posted it all over Facebook. That made the bullying worse," she continued.   After her mum discovered what had happened, she consulted a GP for help, however, it was approximately a year before she was able to have access to the mental health services.

By that point she had transferred schools and so thought she was leaving her past behind.   Sadly a couple of years down the line, when a relationship broke down, she started self-harming once again.

The self-harm charity accepted her providing her one-to-one consultations with a psychologist.  "Talking to someone really helped. You don't want to say to your mum 'I hate myself, I hate my body, I hate how I look’," the teenager says.   Two years later, things have seemingly improved.  She is currently in her final year of a certificate in beauty therapy, “I'm great now.  My anxiety has really dropped.  I still have the fear that I will relapse, sort of.  That's why I like to keep the self-harm charity on board so I can contact them immediately saying I need to see someone,” she continued.

A researcher and professor of psychiatry and population health, believed parents and young people really should not be unduly disturbed by the conclusions.   "We know that for many young people things get better and they no longer hurt themselves as adults.   But of course we must take self-harm seriously; it's important to understand its underlying causes," he said.   The research even learned that young people residing in the most deprived areas were the least likely to be referred to professional mental health services.

Self-harm is noted as the greatest risk factor for suicide, which is currently the second commonest reason for death in the under 25’s around the world.   Children’s charities exclaimed the statistics were "heart-breaking”. It organized in excess of 15, 000 counselling sessions regarding self-harm last year.   They said, "Self-harm can often be an expression of a deeper problem, which is why early intervention services to support these children are vital.  Without this, the consequences really can be a matter of life or death."

Schools stressed that body image concerns, the amount of pressure created by social media and challenging experiences in childhood days could very well result in the poor mental health of teenage girls.   It was suggested that, "As a as a society, we must also do more to protect against mental health problems from arising at the outset.  To begin with, rebalancing the schooling system, to ensure that schools can easily prioritise wellbeing as well as educational performance

Here's what adults are able to do to assist a child who is self-harming

The emotional symptoms are more difficult to detect:


Andy Cox at Assured Effects Hypnotherapy is able to help combat the compulsion to self-harm, and the address the causes of self-harm in a few sessions and without a waiting list.  For more information, click here…

Sharp increase in self-harming among females aged 13 to 16.

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