'Worrying' levels of self-harm among young people in Wakefield are 'getting worse'

There's been a huge rise in the number of children and young adults being admitted to hospital because of self-harm in the Wakefield district.

The latest figures available show that nearly a fifth of women aged between 16 and 24 were known to have inflicted injury on themselves at some point - up from just over six per cent in the year 2000.

Health chiefs do not exactly what is behind the rise.

Health chiefs do not exactly what is behind the rise.

The proportion of men from the same age group known to have self-harmed has risen to eight per cent, up from four per cent at the turn of the century.

Although the latest data is from 2014, local health chiefs say the issue has become worse in the five years since.

And they admit they are unsure as to what the exact causes are, although rising poverty is thought to have played a part.

Speaking about the issue at a health and wellbeing board meeting on Thursday, public health intelligence officer Shane Mullan said: "We've seen a significant increase, particularly in young women being admitted to hospital through self harm.

"Often, they've taken prescription or non-prescription drugs.

"Over those 14 years it's gone up drastically. It is really scary stuff."

Intentional overdoses is now the second biggest cause of hospital admissions among local children and young people up to the age of 19.

Only accidental falls ranks as a bigger cause of serious injury.

The meeting was told that national research into the rise of self-harm was yet to identify an obvious cause.

But Mr Mullan added: "It is getting worse. There's no surprise that austerity and poverty is driving some health inequalities, which lead to more mental health problems in children."

Concerns have also been expressed that hospitals are not referring some young people to mental health services after they've been treated for their physical injuries.

Speaking earlier this month about the problem, Gary Jevon from Wakefield Healthwatch, said: "We’re aware that there’s long waiting times for mental health services, and the services that patients are wanting aren’t available quickly enough.

"By the time they’re being seen they’re in crisis.

"There’s no support while they’re on the waiting list and they’re feeling forgotten about. It’s a horrible situation to be in.

"Commissioners and health providers are trying to do what they can, but the root of it is a lack of funding and resources."

Wakefield CCG and and the local Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS) have both said they are committed to reducing waiting times for those referred for help.

Local Democracy Reporting Service