Rise in teenagers being admitted to hospital due to self harming in Northants

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There has been a sharp rise in the number of 15 to 19-year-olds being admitted to Northamptonshire hospitals due to self harming.

Latest figures revealed in the county’s annual public health report show that 485 young people were admitted to a hospital after harming themselves in 2016/17.

The number of hospital admissions has almost doubled in the past five years.

Exam stress, social media pressure, bullying and confidence issues have been identified as some of the reasons why more and more of the county’s 15 to 19-year-olds are hurting themselves.

Claudia Slabon, chief executive of Wellingborough-based charity Service Six, said the issue was being made worse by funding reductions to organisations that tackle the issues that may lead to self harming.

She said: “There have been cuts to services and that has made a difference.

“A lot of the  early help and prevention work is no longer funded and this has made an impact.”

Service Six runs the Opal project which works with young people, parents, schools and other agencies to offer support and guidance.

The countywide scheme has going for a number of years after being founded by two teenagers from Brackley and in April this year received a three-year £94,000 funding grant from Children in Need.

Funding was pulled by Northamptonshire County Council in 2014 and from then the charity has funded the work itself through grant bids and integrating into other services.

The focus areas are Corby, Wellingborough and Northampton, although it will offer assistance to any county teenager.

Service Six is currently working with 55 young people who self harm.

Claudia said: “There is a lot of pressures put on teenagers by social media.

“They feel that they have to be popular and have a certain number of likes on their posts.

“If they don’t have this it can lead to low self-confidence and a feeling that they don’t like themselves

“There is also pressure from the schools and some teenagers are made to feel that if they don’t do well in exams then they will not do well in life.

“I think changes need to be made to the education system to cater for all abilities and talents.

“There is always an underlying reason why someone is self harming and what we aim to do is to get to the bottom of the problem and then help the young people develop other tools of coping rather than harming themselves.”

Claudia said that as well as cutting, young people can harm themselves by burning their bodies or banging their heads off walls.

She said: “If a parent suspects or discovers their child is self harming it can be a huge shock and very upsetting.

“But I would advise to stay calm, try and talk to your child and seek some professional help.”

Teenagers can self refer and Service Six also receives referrals from parents, schools, doctors and other agencies involved with young people.

The Opal project has two dedicated staff who offer one-to-one sessions plus group workshops and in-school sessions.

According to Public Health England statistics there were 421 teenagers admitted to Northamptonshire hospitals because of self harm in 2015/16, 397 were treated in 2014/15, 351 in 2013/14 and 261 in 2012/13.

Advice for parents is available at www.servicesix.co.uk or call 01933 277520.