A recent study found that emergency hospital visits for self-harm were twice as likely for boys, and three times as likely for looked-after children, compared to pre-pandemic levels.
Stricter COVID-19 lockdown measures coincided with an increase in serious self-harm triggered by social isolation in children and young people, according to the study published in the Royal College of Psychiatrists’ BJPsych Open.
Dr Elaine Lockhart, Chair of the Child and Adolescent Faculty at the Royal College of Psychiatrists, said:
“We know that the majority of young people who self-harm do not seek help from health services. While not all children who self-harm will need psychiatric intervention, we do need to have a full range of mental health support in our communities so that the most unwell can access help quickly. The earlier we offer support, the less likely people are to develop long-term mental health problems.
“It’s important to consider the impact of measures put in place during the pandemic on self-harm so that we can plan mental health services for the future. That’s the only way to ensure all children and young people receive the mental health support they need, when they need it.”