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Self Harm on the increase
23rd October 2012 ... Charlotte
Today YoungMinds released new findings on self harm in young people. After conducting extensive research the charity found that three quarters of young people do not know who they can talk to about self harm. Further more two thirds of teachers do not know what to say if they realise a young person is self harming.
The study which involved 2500 participants including teachers and young people revealed self harm was of bigger concern than bullying and drug use. The number of young people admitted to hospital following self harm has risen by 68% over the last ten years.
The research exposed that there was a gap in support for young people who self harm. Ninety seven percent of young people believe the topic of self harm should be covered in schools yet only one in three teachers believe this is happening. Teachers admitted to feeing less comfortable talking about self harm than they did discussing other harmful behaviours.
So why is there such a big taboo around the subject of self harm? As human beings we are conditioned to survive and keep ourselves safe. We live to pass on our genes to the next generation and ensure the survival of our species. With this in mind let's consider it in relation to the stigma around self harm. In my experience individuals who do not have personal experience of self harm find it an incredibly difficult behaviour to comprehend. Could this be due to our innate instinct to remain safe and out of harm which self harm appears to contradict?
So why is self harm on the increase in young people? There are many reasons that could be behind this. There are certainly many pressures which today's young people have to face from academic targets to appearance expectations. Self harm is discussed more, even if this in a negative context than it was twenty years ago. Could this be related to the increase? We need to strive to achieve a balance between discussing the issue in an empathetic way and giving the message that self harm is a healthy coping mechanism.
What does come out of today's finding is that self harm is an increasing concern for society and there is a lot of work to be done to improve the confidence of professionals such as teachers and allow young people to feel comfortable in seeking support.