NSPCC reveals worrying increase in number of children hospitalised for self-harm

New NSPCC research reveals that nearly 19,000 children and young people in England and Wales were hospitalised for self-harm last year – an increase of almost 2,400 (14%) in the past three years.

The worrying figures, obtained by the NSPCC after a Freedom of Information Request (FOI) to NHS Trusts and Health Boards, highlight how a growing number of hospital beds are being filled by children who have taken violent and drastic steps to alleviate their emotional pain and suffering.

They also reinforce the importance of the charity’s ‘Call for Help’ Christmas campaign, which is raising vital funds for services like Childline so every young person who gets in contact via the phone or online receives the support and advice they may desperately need.

Currently the free and confidential helpline for young people can only deal with three in every four of those that reach out for help. The ‘Call for Help’ campaign invites people to text GIFT to donate £4 on 60155.

Responding to the figures, Dr Max Davie, Assistant Officer for Health Promotion for the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH), said:

“The fact that more than 2,000 children were admitted to hospital for self-harm last year than the previous years is a real concern. Whilst we don’t know what it was that brought all 19,000 children to self-harm, what we do know is that support was not offered early enough to prevent it from getting this serious.

“Early intervention is essential if we are to reduce the number of children self-harming and needing specialist mental health or emergency services. One way of providing this early intervention is for all schools to deliver comprehensive Personal Social Health Economic (PSHE) education, teaching children about emotional wellbeing and addressing challenging mental health issues such as eating disorders, self-harm and suicide in addition to other important topics like positive relationships, sex education and the dangers of drugs and alcohol abuse. PSHE isn’t currently offered in all school – something the RCPCH, and other health organisations have long called on Government to deliver – however, support lines such as Childline offer an important service for children needing support now which is why we support the NSPCC’s ‘Call for Help’ Christmas campaign and urge you to as well.”