Self-harm on the rise in UK schools


School across the UK are “struggling to cope” with the numbers of students self-harming in the UK.

Two major teaching unions have said that schools are not able to deal with the high number of students that turn to self-harm as a coping method for troubles and stresses they have in their lives.

BBC Newsbeat acquired figures from the NHS which show a 20% rise in the number of 10 to 19 year olds across England, Wales and Northern Ireland who are admitted to hospital because of self-harm.

Apparently, the figures showed that hospital admissions for self administered injuries rose from 22,978 in 2012-13, to 28,730 in 2013-14.

People can self-harm for a wide variety of reasons, usually it is an attempt to cope with intolerable situations or pressures, and is most often linked to depression and anxiety.

In today’s school system, incredible pressures are placed on young people; pressures to pass exams and achieve highly, pressures from peers, and pressures from fear of entering a broken economy where the media tells them they are unlikely to ever get a job or succeed.

People sometimes point the finger of blame at social media and the internet for propagating self-harm, especially through sites such as tumblr. This can be a dangerous line to walk, however, as sometimes social media can be the only lines of support suffering people have, and to cut that off can be dangerous.

Dr Max Davie, a spokesperson for the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, told the BBC: “We have to remember that people self-harm because they are in psychological distress that’s so severe that they prefer physical harm or physical pain to their psychological state.

“So the real question is why are more young people experiencing unbearable psychological distress?”

That is a question to which the answers are difficult to address. It could potentially come down to money. With cuts in local funding, schools no longer have certain support systems like guidance councillors. Furthermore, with the economic restrictions on the mental health care services across the country, it can become hard or impossible for young people to find treatment, something only made even more difficult by the unrelenting stigma that suffocates and isolates people with mental health problems.

Care Minister Norman Lamb said in response to the issue: “I’ve brought together a team of specialists to look at how we can improve care – including in our schools – and we are investing £150m over the next five years to help young people deal with issues like self-harm and eating disorders.” We can hope that this team of specialists is successful and help to alleviate the pain that young people are going through.