A range of initiatives for social workers aim to improve understanding of the problem

The scale of self-harm among young people is beyond worrying: a study published recently found that almost one in four girls aged 14 self-harmed in the past year. In the same month, the NHS reported that the number of girls aged under 18 admitted to hospital in England after self-harming had nearly doubled in the past 20 years.

Dig into what’s driving this crisis and experts working in children’s mental health will flag up a range of factors. “Part of the blame is down to higher demands from society,” argues Dr Maite Ferrin, a locum consultant psychiatrist at Haringey Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service. “Young people are being asked to be successful and good-looking and show that life is perfect [on social media].” Another alarming reason is peer pressure. “There’s a tendency for some [young] people to self-harm as a way to fit into a group because the rest of the peer are self-harming,” says Ferrin, who also works at Re:Cognition Health.

Related: Children face mental health epidemic, say teachers

The vast majority of young people involved in self-harming behaviours will not be...


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Mental health is a level of psychological well-being, or an absence of a mental disorder; it is the "psychological state of someone who is functioning at a satisfactory level of emotional and behavioral adjustment".

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17 November 2018