How common is self-harm among young people?

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There is relatively little research evidence about the prevalence of self-harm among young people. Hospital records show only part of the picture. The majority of young people who self-harm will either not harm themselves in a way that needs medical treatment or they will deal with it themselves.

It is estimated that between 1 in 12 and 1 in 15 young people self-harm in the UK. Some research suggests that the UK has the highest rate of self-harm in Europe.

Can self-harm among young people be prevented?

There are ways to prevent self-harm among young people. Anti-bullying strategies and whole-school approaches designed to improve the general mental health and well-being of young people appear to have a positive effect, though there is no specific evidence as yet on their impact on self-harm.

Evidence from young people themselves suggests that social isolation – and believing that they are the only one that has self-harmed – can be a key factor in self-harm for some. It is likely that better information for young people about self-harm would increase their understanding and might help reduce or prevent self-harm. Similarly, better awareness and understanding among parents, teachers and others who come into contact with young people is also likely to have a positive impact.

Do we have good responses to young people who self-harm?

There are a wide range of services across the UK for young people who self-harm. Anecdotal evidence suggests that many young people benefit very much from these, but to date there is not a strong evidence base to demonstrate their effectiveness.

There is stronger evidence – mostly direct from young people – that finding ways to distract from, or alternatives to, self-harm can be very important for many young people. Distraction techniques that are reported as being effective for some young people include using a red pen to mark rather than cutting, rubbing with ice, hitting a punch bag or flicking elastic bands on the wrist.


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The Have I Got A Problem website is a free online resource to help people better understand any issues or concerns they may have about mental health or addiction. The website includes resources specifically focused to; general Mental Health, Depression, Stress, Anxiety, Insecurities, Self-harm Schizophrenia, Bipolar, Anger Management, Eating Disorders, Coping, general Addiction, Alcohol, Smoking, Gambling, Drugs, Cocaine, Heroin, Marijuana (Cannabis) Ecstasy, PCP, Mephedrone, Ketamine & Crystal Meth.

The site was created to give the public information to help them understand mental health and addiction issues and to assist people in making better informed decisions about their life and personal choices.

www.haveigotaproblem.com was created and is run by 'Advising Communities’, which is a UK registered charity (Charity No. 1061055)

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