young mental healthNearly 19,000 children and young people were hospitalised for self-harm in the past year – a rise of 14% on the figure from 3 years ago, new research has revealed.

The figures were obtained by Freedom of Information Requests (FOI) to NHS Trusts made by the NSPCC. NSPCC collected data from all but six NHS Trusts in England and health boards in Wales, and found that 18,788 under-18s were admitted to hospital or treated at A&E units for self-harm in 2015-16. In 2013/14, there were 16,416 admissions for self-harm.

Childline delivered 18,471 counselling sessions about self-harm last year, making it one of the most common reasons for children and young people to reach out for support.

Figures from NHS Digital have shown that rates of self-harm have been increasing for the past 5 years.

Dame Esther Rantzen, Childline president, said: “It's deeply disturbing that so many children and young people are ending up in hospital because they are injuring themselves so seriously. Self-harming is at epidemic level among young people, at Childline we hear from them every day.

“It has become one of the most common problems young people bring to us, and I know from our counsellors that these are some of the most painful stories we hear. Often the young people feel too ashamed and fearful to seek help from those around them, until they harm themselves so badly they have to be rushed to hospital.”

Psychologists and CBT therapists, Dr Bijal Chheda-Varma, from private mental health hospital Nightingale Hospital, said: “Mental health concerns and instability appear when emotional resilience reduces in individuals. Teenagers are at a precarious stage of development with significant changes to their mind and bodies and hormonal shifts. This makes their emotions and moods more unstable and hence making them susceptible to poor emotional regulation.”