Self Harm in Young People

I don’t want to trigger anyone, so WARNING this post contains some details of my self harm experiences and injuries.


Young people (under 18’s) seeking treatment for self harm has gone up by 14% in 3 years.
This number only includes people going to hospital for treatment, but what about those who self harm and never seek treatment? How much has the percentage really gone up? It’s an impossible figure to obtain, but it does make you think.

Every radio show discussing self harm in young people seems to be looking for one definitive answer. I don’t think it is possible to find one. Every person’s self harm story is different, with different circumstances and reasons, with mental illness or none.
The self harm statistics do show that self harm is at its highest when the gap between the rich and poor is at its greatest. This makes sense to me: if it’s hard to get work, food on the table or keep a roof over your head, you’re going to be under much more stress and pressure. This in turn makes self harm more and more likely. There’s also social media, which puts an extreme amount pressure on young people. It can cause insecurities, depression, loneliness and cyberbullying. Perhaps also it provides a private space for people to become more aware of self harm, and maybe more likely to try it themselves. I’m not so sure about that idea though!

I am most definitely no longer a ‘young person’, but I was at one point! All I know for sure are my own circumstances and reasons, and how I was ‘treated’ when I was young.

Why I self harmed changed over the years and I believe it is important to seek this understanding in our patients in order to help them the best we can.

Ages 6-15: 6 is apparently super young to start, I didn’t do it very often at all, but I did do it. I was (still am) really sensitive, I didn’t really know what to do with all my emotions. Any turbulence in the home I took on board. I remember feeling what I now recognise as depression, but I couldn’t explain it to my Mom. I think it was just a way of me putting my internal upset onto the outside where I could take care of it. No one knew that I did this, I would patch myself up. It was never for attention.
Main reason – just not knowing what to do with or how to cope with my feelings.

Ages 16-22: I was most definitely suffering bipolar at this point. 6 long years of near constant extreme mood cycling. I hurt myself a lot, and it got more extreme over the years. I harmed when up in an attempt to ground myself, I harmed when depressed, I harmed in the few moments I was ok because I was embarrassed and ashamed of how I had behaved and how I felt. I didn’t have many friends, (the few I had are total gems and still my good friends today!) people could be really mean and freeze me out of the group, so I felt quite hated and isolated alongside being seriously mentally ill.
Main reason – undiagnosed mental illness.

I got diagnosed at 22, so was technically no longer a young person at that point. And after diagnosis things on the self harm front slowly improved.

Now the sad thing is, that no one seemed to take me seriously. I spoke to many Drs- one of them told me I couldn’t possibly be depressed as I had a boyfriend! I mean REALLY?!?!?! One tried, but didn’t listen to me properly and just put me on antidepressants that made the whole situation much much worse. A&E departments treated me appallingly. One time my stiches came out and they accused me of pulling them out – I hadn’t. One refused to stitch me as I was a self harmer. One didn’t want to numb me. One didn’t care that I’d lost some of the movement range in my wrist. They spoke meanly about me well within my earshot. I was just treated poorly and sent on my way. I was never asked any questions, no miniature basic mental health assessment, nothing. I moved into a different area, and I finally got a lovely GP and saw a good nurse in A&E. They both referred me instantly to the mental health team, and when I saw the psychiatrist he diagnosed me that meeting. Why did this not happen sooner? I was lucky to even still be alive by diagnosis time.

My experience does make me wonder how many young people are mentally ill or on the autistic spectrum and not getting the required help and diagnosis for many years. How many are self harming because of life pressures, bad home, parental divorce, school pressure and not getting any help in coping? I desperately hope that things have become better since I was that young person. I haven’t heard good things, and I know for sure it depends on where you live. We need more money in the NHS and really desperately in mental health and especially children’s mental health services, which, from what I’ve heard are appalling.

When so many people suffer with mental illness at some point in their lives, how is this not a top priority? HOW IS THIS OK? Its not. It is unacceptable. I just wish the government would see this and try to help. These are our young people, the future of this country, and they need help. Please.
Image from


Keep Calm and Carry On Linking Sunday


The Tale of Mummyhood



17 Comments Add yours

  1. Nick says:

    Thank you so much for this post, I learned alot of things that I did not know previously. Thank you for spreading awarness.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for reading it and for your kind comment.


  2. Thanks for sharing this. I agree, i think the problem lies with the thinking that there is one definitive reason why people self harm when it just isn’t the case. It is impossible to understand why someone would self harm of you’ve not been in that position yourself but that shouldn’t equate to a lack of empathy. Proper listening is the key and attempting to understand. It’s also often assumed that those who self harm want to commit suicide, this isn’t necessarily the case and can lead to people trying to ‘deal with it’ all wrong. #blogstravaganza

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Totally agree with you! Thankyou for reading 😁

      Liked by 1 person

  3. mommyandrory says:

    Unfortunately this is a story all too familiar to me. I self harmed through most of my teenage years. I completely agree with what you say about there been no definitive reason. I know why I started but that will be completely different to someone else.
    I’ve found that over the years I’ve felt extremely judged by medical professionals. People who I would expect to have a better understanding than the general public.
    I was lucky enough to have the support from my partner and friends but it’s the people who are alone in the world that I most feel sorry for!
    Thanks for sharing your thoughts 😊

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It is horrible to feel so judged. I also used to work in a minor injuries unit, and most of the nurses there were brilliant, but some were just awful with any mental health issue, they would make them wait longer or just be rude about them. Horrible. Sorry that you had to go through that for so long. Family and friends can be an amazing support. Thanks for reading!


  4. It was so brave of you to write this post, and then to publish. I know that it can’t have been easy. I’m sorry it took so long for you to get a diagnosis and the help that you needed, it’s appalling that it took that long. Keep fighting and keep raising awareness. Education here is key, the more people that understand the better! Thanks so much for linking up to #Blogstravaganza, hope to see you again next week xx

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thankyou for reading πŸ™‚ it’s scary and upsetting how many kids struggle with these issues for so long. Or their parents have to really fight for them to get diagnosis and/or help.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I was never actually treated for the fact that I self harmed – it seemed to be ignored and my depression was treated at the age of 15 by going on the contraceptive pill. (i know right???) I hated myself and did many things I’m pleased didnt work out as I wouldnt have met my soul mate or had a wonderful child like i have.
    I was told i had moderate to severe depression about 4-5 years ago and my GP referred me to a few counselling sessions to which self harm and the rest wasnt mentioned – it became more of a current bitching session for me. I often wonder had I been institutionalised as a teen when it was raw and the most unknown to me – would I have been helped and taken more seriously? and as such could cope it adult life with it better?
    Unfortunately, when it comes to how depression is coped with; little is understood therefore medical professionals are not equipped in knowledge as to what can be done to help.
    Thank you for being brave and speaking out.


    1. Sounds like you had a bad time with professionals as well. Can’t believe your depression was treated by being put on the pill!!! Ridiculous! I wonder how different things would have been if I’d got help younger. It varies so much from gp/nurse practitioner as to what they know. Thankyou for reading and commenting

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Gosh 6 years old. I had no idea these worries as such a young person could manifest in this way. Can I ask some advice, as a mother to a young girl who will grow up with the intense social media. What would you tell your younger self now that you are an adult? I’d be interested to know the words you would use to try to help. #KCACOLS

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Luckily I didn’t grow up with social media, I wonder myself about the best way to support my daughter with it when she’s older.
      That’s a very good question! I’m not sure what I would say to my younger self, many things I wouldn’t have heard! I think if I’d had someone to listen without judging or freaking out it would have been good. And probably to tell myself to find ways to self care instead of self harm. I’d know more what to say to someone doing the supporting! I’m going to go away and think about this question thanks!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Look forward to hearing your thoughts x

        Liked by 1 person

  7. Bread says:

    No one took me seriously at first. Not for a long time. I really had to push (i.e rant, rave and rant some more) to even see the same psychiatrist more than once. I worry about the future for the kids in my life, and if they ever how problems how hard it’s going to be to get help. I started cutting at 19, I didn’t stop until I was nearly 30. #kcacols


  8. Lydia C. Lee says:

    Great post – there seems to be a pandemic of depression and anxiety in young people in Australia and I’m trying to work out why and what we can do about it. I think we (the parents) and society (and no doubt the constant access to SM) has created something very damaging that has taken away for our children. I love that you point out depression has all different forms, and having a boyfriend doesn’t mean you still aren’t depressed #KCACOLS

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think mental illness in young people will always exist, and always has, at least they are being spoken about and noticed more now. I do think pressures placed on young people today are higher which can make it worse, and treatment and access to services needs to be hugely improved. Thanks so much for reading


  9. Suburban Mum says:

    I am so sorry to hear that you went through all of that with virtually no help and support. I can’t believe how badly you were treated in hospital!

    Thank you for linking up to #KCACOLS and I hope to see you back again on Sunday when the linky opens again x

    Liked by 1 person

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