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Understanding Self-Harm in Young People


Self-harm among young people is a pressing issue that demands our attention and empathy. In the United Kingdom, this concerning trend has been on the rise, prompting a need for greater awareness, understanding, and support systems. In this blog post, we will delve into the statistics of self-harm in young people, the risks they face, and the essential support networks, including charities and government frameworks, available in England and Wales.

Self-Harm Statistics in the UK

Self-harm refers to deliberate acts of harming one’s own body, often as a way to cope with emotional pain or distress. According to recent UK statistics:

  1. Prevalence: Self-harm is more common among young people, with a higher incidence in teenagers and those in their early twenties.


  1. Gender Differences: While self-harm affects both genders, studies indicate that it is more prevalent among females.


  1. Underreporting: It’s important to note that self-harm is often underreported, and many cases go unnoticed or unrecorded.


Risks and Implications:

Self-harm is a complex issue with profound physical and emotional risks:


  1. Physical Health: Self-harm can lead to serious physical injuries, including infections, scarring, and in severe cases, life-threatening harm.


  1. Mental Health: It often coexists with underlying mental health conditions such as depression, anxiety, and borderline personality disorder, making early intervention crucial.


  1. Social Isolation: Self-harming behaviours can lead to social isolation, as individuals may withdraw from friends and family out of shame or fear of judgment.


  1. Suicide Risk: Self-harm is a significant risk factor for suicide, making it essential to provide support and intervention.

Support for Young People:

Thankfully, there are dedicated organizations and government initiatives in the UK that aim to support young people dealing with self-harm:

  1. Charities: Several charities provide valuable assistance and resources, including:

   – Young Minds: Offers information, guidance, and support for young people and their families.

   – Self harm UK: Provides resources, online support, and a helpline.

  1. Government Frameworks:

   – NHS England: The National Health Service (NHS) offers mental health services and resources for young people dealing with self-harm.

   – MindEd: An e-learning platform that offers free training on mental health for professionals, including teachers, parents, and healthcare workers.

  1. Local Support: Local mental health services and support networks may be available in your area, often coordinated by local authorities or healthcare providers.

Government Frameworks in England and Wales:

In England and Wales, several government frameworks address mental health and self-harm among young people:

  1. Children and Young People’s Mental Health Green Paper: A government initiative aimed at improving mental health support for young people, focusing on early intervention and prevention.
  1. NHS Long Term Plan: This plan outlines the NHS’s commitment to expanding mental health services for children and young people, with a particular focus on self-harm prevention.
  1. Mental Health Services in Schools: The government has implemented programs to provide mental health support within schools, offering accessible resources for young people.


Self-harm among young people is a serious issue that requires our collective effort to address. By understanding the statistics, recognizing the risks involved, and promoting the available support systems, we can work towards a safer and more supportive environment for young individuals dealing with self-harm. Charities and government frameworks in England and Wales are playing a crucial role in this mission, but it’s a task that requires ongoing commitment and awareness from all of us. Together, we can make a difference and offer hope and support to those in need.

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Find out how UK Care help young people who are subject to selfharm