Children Self-harming figures are horrifying on eve of World Mental Health Day

What a week to be marking “World Mental Health Day” (Wednesday 10th October) as children’s mental health is yet again in the national headlines and reaffirming the scandal that it has become. It is shocking as we see ambulance call-outs for children suffering from mental health crises rising at a faster rate than for adults.

We see cases of drug overdoses, self-harming and other psychiatric conditions rising by over a third in the past five years. The number of adult cases has increased by 20%

Moreover, this came on the heels of a recent report that showed that more than a fifth of 14-year-old girls in the UK said they had self-harmed, a report released recently suggests.

A survey of 11,000 children found 22% of the girls and 9% of the boys said they had hurt themselves on purpose in the year prior to the questionnaire. As a parent of three children, two of the girls, I find this horrifying.

Ministers need to address the “crisis in children’s mental health” after a Children’s Society report revealed recently that around one in four 14-year-old girls self-harm.

One young person told the charity: “I felt like self-harming was what I wanted to do and had to do as there was nothing else I could do. I think there is help for young people but not the right kind of help. Feeling not pretty enough or good enough as other girls did contribute towards my self-harming, however, I don’t feel just being a girl is the reason as I think boys feel the same way too.”

Councils across the country work hard to ensure children and young people can access the support they need, however with children’s services facing a £3 billion funding gap by 2025, with youth and mental health services suffering.

Many of our councils are being forced to cut early intervention work, including youth services, which helps children avoid reaching crisis point. The Government should release the £1.7 billion promised for CAMHS (Children and Adolescent Mental Health Services),  something that our parliamentarians headed up by Norman Lamb and the Local Government Association have called for time and time again.

It follows NHS data released this month that showed the number of admissions to hospital of girls aged 18 and under for self-harm had almost doubled in two decades, from 7,327 in 1997 to 13,463 in 2017 which backs up our call as part of the LGA’s Bright Futures campaign for children and young people’s mental health (link here)





* Councillor Howard Sykes MBE is the Liberal Democrat Group Leader at the Local Government Association. The LGA is a politically-led, cross-party organisation that works on behalf of 415 councils to ensure local government has a strong, credible voice with national government.

Read more by or more about .
This entry was posted in News and Op-eds.


  • This is a very important issue raised by Howard Sykes.
    Reading the quotes that he cites I am struck by a few things. It is interesting that a girl is quoted as saying that there is help for young people but not the right kind of help. It is an indication that we need to look at what is causing the problem and what help should be provided.
    From the point of view of the resources spent by society on services for young people there is very strong evidence that unreasonable stress is being caused by the examination system, the league tables and the Ofsted system. None of them are fit for purpose. Children are put under unreasonable pressure so that the school does not fall in league tables. Staff are put under pressure by a system which uses statistical analysis which is not acceptable. The examinations are using syllabuses which are not published in time for the teachers to be trained. And so it goes on.
    Of course added to this are the stresses in the families. Zero hours contracts, short term contracts, and all the ills of twenty first century Britain that we know only too well.
    We need to focus on the problems which are in the control of the public authorities. Then we might have the resources to deal with children who are still presenting problems. After, that is, we have dealt with the large increase in problems caused by over prescription of drugs, particularly psycho active ones, and especially to children,

  • I gather the number of mental health nurses has dropped by over 5,000 since 2010.

    No wonder the right sort of help is not available and that in some cases many young people have to travel hundreds of miles after long waits to receive any help and support.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 10th Oct '18 - 5:45pm

    Excelent from Howard, and David is correct.

    Yet it is Tom who gets to the nub.Prevention better than solution after the event. We need to alter ways pronto.

    We need more specialist doctors more by far than nurses. We have fewer specialists than any modern state. This goes way back, even the excellent money new Labour added, added few actual extra specialists in any area, compared to other systems.

    We need individual responsibility and social too. The internet needs , not government dictat, but parental input.

    We need schools to include discussion at every level, and led by those able to.

    We need more visiting guest teachers who are not teachers but those who have suffered or who know about these matters, far more than teachers.

    We need media to own up, especially the public broadcaster that does little public broadcasting.

  • In my own day attached to a CAMHS we had a greater degree of joined up service provision. We had better links between social services, schools and health teams – both community and in-patient. We also had a multi agency team. It was never 100% and yes increased funding always helps especially when its planned and targeted based on needs. We had some success with developing self-advocacy groups and giving individuals the chance for their voices, individually and collectively, to be heard a little more. We seem to have lost a lot of the joined up thinking as service provision splits, with multiple service providers, and funds are cut. We also seem to live in a society that has has become more judgemental and places greater value on celebrity, how you look and what you own/wear.

  • Yes, to what everyone is saying, but the malaise affects all areas of society, sadly. In addition to issues with education and work, we need to look at how photoshopped advertising affects the self esteem/expectations of young people. We need to think about how children and young people often have over-scheduled free time with no down time to relax, process emotions, dream and imagine, including school lunch times which are now usually squashed to 30 mins. We need to think about the disadvantages of culture that strongly values conformity at the expense of creativity, certainty at the expense of flexibility and efficiency at the expense of humanity. Sorry for the rant, but I work with young people so feel strongly about this is issue.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 11th Oct '18 - 12:37am

    A superb piece from Chrissie

    No reason to need an apology, we need more of what you write, and I allude to.

    David alas when you are correct which is regularly, you bash those who do not think it the job of government to bring up their children, that is why some , even those of us who are Liberals and social democrats, think there is room for seeing those things in society that are the fault of individuals and organisations in it, not merely governments.

    Those who seem to think it better to regulate, tax and dig at facebook, might be better to try getting their kids off it and into family activity.

    Trouble is, they are too exhausted, cue need for other changes which only the centre left, not farther left or right wing nonsense can deal with.

    Cue the necessity of the joined up approach we need. There are many who are economic liberals, who want a market economy, but not, as the good DR. Owen used to say, a market society.

  • Sean Hyland 11th Oct '18 - 2:28pm

    @David Raw, will always be a social liberal at heart – cant change that and maybe that’s why I struggle to fit with the party these days.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 11th Oct '18 - 4:07pm

    Sean the party is a social Liberal one, the economic Liberals as they define it, are social ones too. I came to it from a youth being in the Labour party, am a classical Liberal in my love of liberty, suspicion of power, social Liberal in my seeing the need of community and empowerment of everybody, social democrat in my view of the need for greater equality and the utilisation of power by good government.

    We should all fit in .

  • Sean Hyland 11th Oct '18 - 8:13pm

    @Lorenzo Cherin, respectfully i am inclined to disagree. However that is the function of debate is it not. Respect for anothers’ point of view without the need to resort to name calling or unpleasant words.

Post a Comment

Lib Dem Voice welcomes comments from everyone but we ask you to be polite, to be on topic and to be who you say you are. You can read our comments policy in full here. Please respect it and all readers of the site.

To have your photo next to your comment please signup your email address with Gravatar.

Your email is never published. Required fields are marked *

Please complete the name of this site, Liberal Democrat ...?


Recent Comments

  • Chris Perry
    It would be nice to hear from a few people in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, please?...
  • Marco
    In my view we should keep the 1p rise whilst raising the income tax threshold to about £16000. Then we could present ourselves as a tax cutting party for low e...
  • Steve Trevethan
    Is it then in order to understand that there is enough money for banks to put some of it in reserve accounts but not enough money for all children to be well fe...
  • Peter Martin
    I seem to remember similar arguments some 40 or so years ago when computers, computerisation, and automation were starting to generate similar concerns. It didn...
  • Joe Bourke
    A 1p rise in income tax would be expected to raise about 5.5 billion across the year, about 2 weeks debt service costs at the current expected cost of circa 131...