Body image insecurity and social media are to blame for increase in Doncaster children self-harming

Hospital admissions for self-harm injuries among young people are rising in Doncaster, figures reveal.

Friday, 8th March 2019, 7:45 am
Updated Friday, 8th March 2019, 7:48 am
Self harm is on the increase

Mental health charity Young Minds puts the trend down to pressures linked to the rise of social media, such as bullying and insecurities over body image.

The latest Public Health England data shows that 249 patients aged between 10 and 24 were admitted to hospital in Doncaster between April 2016 and March 2017, compared with 175 five years earlier.

Self harm is on the increase

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It means there were 490 admissions for every 100,000 people in that age band.

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The bulk of the admissions were among people between 14 and 19 years old — 116 in total.

There were 44 self-harm cases among children aged between 10 and 14, while a further 89 patients were aged 20 to 24.

Tom Madders, 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% 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."