Understanding self-harm in kids

Most of us won’t have had much experience of self-harming or know anyone that’s self-harmed but new research suggests that it’s a real concern among young people and the problem is on the rise.

Between 2006-2007, nearly 16,000 children were admitted to hospital in the UK because of self-harming – that’s over 4,000 more than five years ago and this figure only includes those that had treatment – not those that kept it a secret. A new study has also revealed that girls consider self-harm to be a normal way of managing stress, which is a huge worry.

MPs are now calling for more specialist mental health treatment for children and young people on the NHS.

So what exactly is self-harm, why are kids doing it and what can you do to help?

What is self-harm?

Self-harming is when a person cuts or hurts themselves in some way as a way of coping with deep distress or upset.

There are a lot of different ways in which people can self-harm – cutting, burning or scratching at their skin are some of the most common, but don’t forget that eating disorders such as anorexia and bulimia are also forms of harming the body. Even getting really drunk, or taking drugs can be forms of self-harming if kids do it intentionally to hurt themselves.