Hundreds of Wigan youngsters admitted to hospital after self-harming

Young people are under increased pressure. Library image
Young people are under increased pressure. Library image

Hundreds of young people were admitted to hospital between April 2016 and March 2017 for self-harm injuries in Wigan, figures reveal.

Mental health charity Young Minds says pressures linked to the rise of social media, such as bullying and insecurities over body image, are impacting children’s mental health.

The latest Public Health England data shows that 325 patients aged among 10 and 24 years were admitted to hospital in 2016-2017.

That’s a rate of 606 per every 100,000 people in that age band, one of the highest in England. The bulk of the admissions were among people between 14 and 19 years old – 154 in total.

There were 46 self-harm cases among children aged between 10 and 14, while a further 125 patients were aged 20 to 24.

Tom Madders, the campaigns director at Young Minds, said social media and a school system focused on exams have added more pressure to children over recent years.

He said: “Difficult experiences in childhood, like growing up in poverty or experiencing abuse or neglect, can have a huge impact on mental health, but there are also new pressures that have emerged in recent years.

“The education system now places a greater emphasis than ever on exam results, while the rise of social media can make problems like bullying or body image issues more intense than they were in the past.

“At the moment, it’s far too difficult for young people to get mental health support before they reach crisis point.

“While the Government has promised extra investment in children and young people’s mental health as part of the NHS Long Term Plan, this must lead to real improvements to frontline services and to mental health support in schools.”

In February, Instagram banned images of self-harm in a bid to stem the problem among children.

Nationally, admissions for self-harm injuries among young people rose by 14 per cent in five years, with 40,148 cases in 2016-17.

Dr Bernadka Dubicka, chair of the child and adolescent faculty at the Royal College of Psychiatrists said: “Young people are increasingly turning to self-harm to express their distress and often end up in crisis as they can’t get access the help they need at the right time.

“It is vital that child and adolescent psychiatrists are placed on the shortage occupation list. We can’t turn away skilled staff from abroad if we are to treat the growing numbers of young people experiencing mental illness.”