Self-harm among young people in West Sussex on the rise

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THE number of young people being admitted to hospital for self-harming has more than tripled in a year.

More than 600 12 to 25 year-olds in West Sussex were admitted to hospital in 2014 – a 268 per increase on the 167 people reported in 2013.

The figures, revealed in a report by Adur and Worthing councils on the county council’s West Sussex Partnership Families Strategic Plan 2020, show where improvements need to be made to improve the lives of children and young people.

Self-harm is when a person intentionally damages or injures their own body.

Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, which provides mental health services in Sussex explains the condition as a way of expressing ‘deep emotional feelings such as low self-esteem, or coping with traumatic events, such as the death of a loved one’.

The trust said self-harm is a way of expressing distress, rather than an illness, although it can be linked to other mental health conditions, such as depression.

Research suggests self-harm is most common among 15 to 19 year olds, and those suffering from anxiety and depression.

A spokeswoman for Sussex Partnership said: “We recognise that self-harm is a growing concern for young people, families and communities.

“We think there are a number of reasons for the increase in incidents being reported, including a wider awareness of self-harm generally, more reporting in the media, the fact that it is less stigmatised and that more young people are reaching out for help.

“Our priority is to make sure that young people can access the right services to meet their needs in a timely manner, this may be through specialist care that we provide or from other organisations.

“We continue to work with young people, their families and carers and other local services to ensure timely and appropriate support.

“It’s nationally recognised that young people need appropriate support to ensure early intervention and support and improved access to services at times of crisis and this forms part of our future transformational work.

“What’s really important is that the emphasis is on prevention so we also provide help and support and training to schools around self-harm.”

The trust has also started a pilot service which provides immediate access to a CAMH (Children and Adolescent Mental Health) specialist based in the A&E departments at Worthing and St Richard’s Hospitals.

The specialists see young people who are admitted through A&E and make sure they have access to specialist assessments and help they need.

Sussex Partnership also works with Youth Emotional Support, Dialogue Counselling, YMCA and West Sussex County Council’s youth team to support young people.

West Sussex County Council is aiming to improve training for child care professionals and help provide mental health support.

The strategic report said the council will introduce peer mentors and work with schools and GPs on wellbeing schemes to help people at risk of self-harming.

If you have been affected by self-harm and would like to share your story please get in touch to share your story.

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