It is estimated that one in twelve young people self-harm at some point in their lives. Latest figures from ChildLine released today show a 167% increase in counselling sessions related to self-harm. These shocking statistics show how much more we have to do as a society to help support the emotional health and wellbeing of children and young people.
Friday is Self-Harm Awareness Day, it's an opportunity to get people talking about an issue that is too often ignored and kept secret. Four national charities, ChildLine, YouthNet (the charity behind TheSite.org), selfharm.co.uk and YoungMinds have come together to get the conversation started and to bust myths and stigma around self-harm.
The campaign is backed by X-Factor and N-Dubz star Tulisa who says
"It's incredibly sad that so many young people are using self-harm as a way to deal with their issues and that many are suffering in silence. I've experienced difficult periods in the past but having somebody to talk to makes the world of difference. I know many young people don't have this and I hope they can be made aware that they can contact the charities supporting this campaign to give them the care, help and support they need. That's why I'm supporting Self-Harm Awareness Day on March 1st and I urge everyone to do the same."
When YoungMinds conducted research last year into attitudes around self-harm we found that a third of parents would not seek professional help if their child was self-harming, almost half of GP's feel they don't understand young people who self-harm and why they and that two in three teachers don't know what to say to young people who self-harm.
There are many misconceptions surrounding why young people self-harm. The reality is that:
- Self-harm is not a mental illness, nor is it an attempt to commit suicide.
- It doesn't just affect girls. Boys self-harm too, but they are much less likely to tell anyone about it.
- We know that young people from all walks of life self-harm, regardless of their social or ethnic background.
- Self-harm is not a fashion fad, nor is it merely 'attention seeking behaviour'.
- Most importantly, it is not easy for a young person to stop self-harming behaviour.
Also backing the campaign is Dr. Ranj Singh, an NHS children and young people's doctor and TV presenter. He says:
"In my professional role I see evidence of young people self-harming far too much and yet I only see the tip of the iceberg. Recognising the scale of the problem in the UK and challenging the misconceptions that are rife about it is vital if we are to begin to tackle this issue. What is clear is that we are currently not doing enough and need new and innovative ways to help these young people."
The charities hope that the awareness campaign will get people talking and help to reduce the stigma attached to self-harming which prevents many young people from seeking help. You can follow the campaign on Twitter via #selfharm and find out more about the campaign on each of the charities websites.
ChildLine offers children and young people aged 18 and under free, confidential advice and support 24 hours a day - no problem is too big or small. Our trained volunteer counsellors can be contacted through our helpline 0800 1111 or on www.childline.org.uk for online chat or email.
Selfharm.co.uk - Is a safe, pro-recovery website that supports young people who self-harm. It also offers training for parents, carers and professionals equipping them to handle disclosure and provide effective support.
YouthNet is the leading online charity behind TheSite.org, the online guide to life for 16-25 year olds. TheSite.org provides essential, straight-talking, anonymous advice to young people about the issues affecting their lives. 0207 520 5700 www.youthnet.org/ www.thesite.org
YoungMinds - YoungMinds is the UK's leading charity committed to improving the emotional wellbeing and mental health of children and young people. YoungMinds provides a Parents' Helpline for any adult concerned about the mental health or wellbeing of a child or young person. 0808 802 5544 or www.youngminds.org.uk