The number of girls under the age of 18 being treated in hospital in England after self-harming has nearly doubled compared with 20 years ago, according to NHS figures.
The figure reached 13,463 last year against 7,327 in 1997. In comparison, the figure for admissions of boys who self-harmed rose from 2,236 in 1997 to 2,332 in 2017.
The number of girls treated for attempting a substance overdose has risen more than tenfold to 2,736 last year from 249 in 1997, while the number of boys treated increased over the past 21 years from 152 to 839 last year.
The latest figures were disclosed by James O’Shaughnessy, a health minister, last month in response to a written question about how many boys and girls have been admitted to hospital because of self-harm and self-poisoning.
Research published last October found that self-harm reported to GPs among teenage girls under the age of 17 in the UK increased by 68% over a period of three years.
The study also found that self-harm among young people aged 10 to 19 was three times more common among girls than boys, and those who self-harmed were at much greater risk of suicide than those who did not.
A Department of Health and Social Care spokesman said: “Making sure children and young people have the right mental health care when they need it is vital.
“That’s why we are investing an extra £300m to provide more help in schools, which will include trained staff to provide faster support to children. But we want to go further – we’ve extended our pilot scheme to deliver training in 20 more areas of the country this year to improve links between 1,200 schools and their mental health services, and, as part of our long-term plan for the NHS, we will announce more on how we will improve mental health later this year.”
It emphasised that figures for admissions did not represent the number of patients treated because some were admitted more than once within the period. The figures also now include those treated at private hospitals.
The government expanded the scope of the National Suicide Prevention Strategy in 2017 to include addressing self-harm as a separate issue.
It is also investing £247m to put mental health liaison teams in A&E departments by 2020 and has pledged a total of £1.7bn on improving young people’s mental health and wellbeing.
- In the UK, Samaritans can be contacted on 116 123 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. In the US, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-8255. In Australia, the crisis support service Lifeline is 13 11 14. Other international suicide helplines can be found at www.befrienders.org.