Self-harm spike in Manchester due to recession, says mental health expert

Self-harm rates are soaring across Manchester and could have been triggered by the recession, according to a university mental health expert.

Data made available by the Manchester Self-Harm Project (MaSH) shows that between 2008-2012, the biggest increase in hospital visits as a result of self-harm was in men aged 35-54.

The group with the highest overall self-harm rate is still young women aged 15-24.

The new figures were released for Self-Harm Awareness Day on Sunday.

Dr Pauline Turnbull, project manager of MaSH at The University of Manchester, said: “It does look likely that the increase in men between 35-54 going to hospital following self-harm could be linked to the effects of the recession.

“These latest figures show that self-harm really is not just a teenage or female problem.”

Self-harm is when somebody intentionally damages or injures their body, as a way of coping with or expressing overwhelming emotional pain.

Forms of self-harm include cutting, burning or pinching, as well as abusing drugs and alcohol or having an eating disorder.

During 2013-2014, counsellors at the Manchester ChildLine base received 3,156 contacts either on the telephone or online from children and young people across the UK about self-harm.

A new UK poll commissioned by a number of leading UK youth charities shows that a large proportion of 11-21 year olds are being exposed to images online showing people self-harming and many said the images make them ‘feel like hurting themselves’.

The poll also reveals a worrying insight into the number of children and young people self-harming in the UK today.

Over half of 11-14 year olds have self-harmed themselves or know someone who has self-harmed and eight out of every ten 18-21 year olds say they have self-harmed or know someone who has self-harmed.

ChildLine, YouthNet, selfharmUK and YoungMinds commissioned the poll of 2,000 children and young people between the ages of 11-21.

Christine Mellor, ChildLine area manager for the North West, said: “Although self-harm is not a new problem, sharing images of self-harm on social media sites is a worrying new development, especially among such a young age group of children.

“There are many reasons why young people might self-harm. It’s a way of dealing with overwhelming feelings that can feel very difficult to cope with and young people tell us that physical pain helps them cope with the emotional pain.”

In Greater Manchester, local experts along with Public Health and NHS workers are joining forces to raise awareness of self-harm and the mental health issues that surround it.

MaSH, along with colleagues from Manchester Mental Health and Social Care Trust and Manchester City Council will be at markets throughout the week presenting their brand new ‘Keep Safe’ leaflet, specially designed to offer advice and information about support groups and organisations available in Manchester.

Councillor Joanna Midgley, Manchester City Council’s Mental Health Champion, added: “It’s vitally important that people know that support is available for them when they need it most.

“That’s why we’re working with MaSH and the Mental Health and Social Care Trust to promote the Keep Safe campaign across the city.”

Stalls will be held from 10am to 1pm at Harpurhey Market on Thursday February 26 and Gorton Market on Friday February 27.

You can follow the Self-Harm Awareness Day activity on social media via the hashtags #selfharm or #selfharmawarenessday

Young people seeking further advice or support regarding self-harm can contact ChildLine on 0800 1111 or visit their website by clicking here.

Image courtesy of Rachel Collins via FlickR, with thanks.

Related Articles