Rising rates of youth hospitalised after self-harm

Hundreds more young people are being admitted to hospital with self-inflicted injuries.

There were 3081 hospitalisations of young people under the age of 20 for self-harm last year - up more than 200 on the year before.

The vast majority of those hurting themselves were girls and rangatahi Māori made up about 30 per cent of those ending up in hospital.

Youth mental health campaigner Lucy McSweeny says it's time for urgent action.

"The numbers of self-harm hospitalisations are extremely distressing and far too high and increasing.

"Those numbers exclude the many people who will self-harm and not tell anyone or the many people who may self-harm but not end up in hospital."

Lucy says she wants to see mental health education included in the school curriculum.

She says this will also help young people who did not self-harm, but have friends who do.

Young people were amazing at offering support, she said, but it was about teaching them how to seek the best help for their friends in tough times.

Jean Andrews from the Counsellors' Association says school services are snowed under with serious cases of self-harm, which could include near suicidal behaviour.

She says that means minor-to-moderate cases are not receiving the attention they need.

Jean says more people may be ending up in hospital because there are not enough early interventions.

"We are certainly seeing self-harming increasing in the intermediate school age groups.

"Also at high school, they are struggling to access counsellors because there is just simply not enough available in schools in particular but also in the community."

Jean says counselling also needs to become far more normalised than it currently is.

The government has committed almost $20 million to boost health services in decile 1 to 5 schools.

A pilot program putting counsellors into primary schools was also promised as part of the Labour and New Zealand First coalition deal.

Associate Education Minister Tracey Martin says she's interested in a Waikato program that had been running for quite some time.

"It's professional counsellors who are not stationed inside of schools, but have been working with clusters of schools.

"I believe that's something I would like to try and convince my Cabinet colleagues for us to roll out over the next year into some other schools, to see if we can start to scale that up."

Where to get help:

Need to Talk? Free call or text 1737 any time to speak to a trained counsellor, for any reason.

Lifeline: 0800 543 354 or text HELP to 4357

Suicide Crisis Helpline: 0508 828 865 / 0508 TAUTOKO (24/7). This is a service for people who may be thinking about suicide, or those who are concerned about family or friends.

Depression Helpline: 0800 111 757 (24/7) or text 4202

Samaritans: 0800 726 666 (24/7)

Youthline: 0800 376 633 (24/7) or free text 234 (8am-12am), or email talk@youthline.co.nz

What's Up: online chat (3pm-10pm) or 0800 WHATSUP / 0800 9428 787 helpline (12pm-10pm weekdays, 3pm-11pm weekends)

Kidsline (ages 5-18): 0800 543 754 (24/7)

Rural Support Trust Helpline: 0800 787 254

Healthline: 0800 611 116

Rainbow Youth: (09) 376 4155

If it is an emergency and you feel like you or someone else is at risk, call 111.


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