Record number of children attending Welsh hospitals for self-harming issues
The number of self-harming children and young people admitted to hospital in Wales is at its highest rate in more than a decade – sparking fresh calls for urgent action to tackle the country’s mental health crisis.
New figures, obtained by the Welsh Conservatives, revealed there were 1,274 children and young people who were taken to hospital with self-harming issues in 2020/21, up by 39% since 2007/8 when there were 916.
The total number of children and young people admitted to hospital for self-harming since 2007 stands at 14,651 with two-in-five – or 40% – of those being admitted over the last five years.
Young people have been hugely affected by the restrictions resulting from the pandemic, both socially and economically, according to the Samaritans.
The charity says: “Self-harm is a sign of serious emotional distress, and while most people who self-harm will not go on take their own life, studies have found it is a strong risk factor for suicide.”
“We also know self-harm is more common among young people. Research suggests that 1 in 4 young women and 1 in 10 young men have self-harmed at some point in their life. Self-harm rates have also risen fastest among young people since 2000.”
“Even before the pandemic, people who self-harmed could struggle to access support – with only 38% of people who self-harmed receiving medical and/or psychological support.”
“Early research suggests that young people, particularly young women, have experienced much greater declines in their mental health during the pandemic, compared to others. Our research adds further evidence that more young people may be struggling as a result of the pandemic.”
Welsh Conservative Shadow Minister for Mental Health, James Evans MS, said:
“These are extremely concerning figures which exposes the devastating impact the pandemic has had on our young people’s mental health and wellbeing.”
“With the number of self-harming children and young people admitted to hospital in Wales at its highest rate in more than a decade, this should serve as a major wake-up call for Labour ministers in Cardiff Bay.”
“I have said this countless times in the past, and I will carry on saying it until I am blue in the face, we need to see urgent action to transform mental health support here in Wales including an urgent increase in funding to tackle horrific waiting list backlogs.”
“The Welsh Labour Government also needs to step up to the plate by introducing an updated Mental Health Act, setting up 24/7 mental health crisis centres and ensuring our young people have access to support in schools, colleges and universities.”
Where to get help for self-harm
It’s important to know that support is available for anyone who self-harms or thinks about self-harm, as well as their friends and family.
It’s best to speak to a GP about self-harm, but people may also find it helpful to speak to a free listening service or support organisation.
If you just need to talk, any time of day or night there are free listening services.
These services offer confidential advice from trained volunteers.
You can talk about anything that’s troubling you, no matter how difficult:
- Call 116 123 to talk to Samaritans, or email: firstname.lastname@example.org for a reply within 24 hours
- Text “SHOUT” to 85258 to contact the Shout Crisis Text Line, or text “YM” if you’re under 19
If you’re under 19, you can also call 0800 1111 to talk to Childline.
The number will not appear on your phone bill.
If you prefer a webchat, these services are available at certain times:
- Self Injury Support webchat (for women and girls) is open Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday from 7pm to 9.30pm
- CALM webchat (for men) is open from 5pm to midnight every day
Young Minds: https://www.youngminds.org.uk/young-person/my-feelings/self-harm/#Wheretogethelp
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