Monday, March 27, 2006
'Urgent need' to help self-harming youngsters
The Government has been urged to launch a national scheme to tackle the problem of self-harming among young people.
A two-year inquiry said a lack of understanding about the condition was preventing victims from getting the support they needed, and recommended an awareness campaign for parents and professionals working with young people.
The study found that one in 15 young people in Britain have self-harmed and more than 24,000 teenagers are admitted to hospital every year for deliberately hurting themselves - with the average age for a child to start self-harm put at 13.
The inquiry, carried out by the Camelot Foundation and the Mental Health Foundation, also revealed that young people who self-harm are more likely to turn to friends their own age for help, than relatives, teachers or doctors.
Self-harm is regarded as a coping mechanism for dealing with difficult emotions, and the most common methods involve cutting, burning, scalding or scratching the body, breaking bones, pulling hair or swallowing toxic substances.
Susan Elizabeth, director of the Camelot Foundation said: "There is an urgent need to provide information and guidance for parents and carers, friends and professionals - people are struggling in the dark.
"We must rid the fear, misunderstanding and stigma that surrounds self-harm."
And Catherine McLoughlin, who chaired the inquiry, said: "It is vital that everyone who comes into contact with young people has a basic understanding of what self-harm is, why people do it, and how to respond appropriately.
"At the very least they should avoid being judgmental towards young people who disclose self-harm, should treat them with care and respect and should acknowledge the emotional distress they are clearly experiencing."
Also see: The Observer- Teenagers' epidemic of self-harm
The Report of the National Inquiry: Truth Hurt's - Full Report
Truth Hurt's - Executive Summary