tulisaselfharmdayA group of leading youth charities have teamed up with pop star Tulisa to launch a 'myth-busting campaign' on Self-Harm Awareness Day 2013 [1 March].

ChildLine estimates show that one in twelve young people in the UK have self-harmed at some point in their lives, with the charity seeing a 167% increase in self-harm counselling sessions in the last year. 

One of their partners in the campaign, YoungMinds, have also found that four in ten young people wouldn't know where to go for help if they were involved in or thinking about self-harming.

After launching the campaign to tackle these issues, X-Factor judge Tulisa said: "It’s incredibly sad that so many young people are using self-harm as a way to deal with their issues and that many are suffering in silence. 

"I’ve experienced difficult periods in the past but having somebody to talk to makes a world of difference. I know many young people don't have this and I hope they can be made aware that they can contact the charities supporting this campaign to give them the care, help and support they need."

There is also evidence that self-harming is affecting children at a younger age than ever before.  In 2011/12, ChildLine reported that self-harm was in the top five concerns for fourteen year olds for the first time. However, in the first six months of 2012/13, this age dropped further appearing for the first time in the top five concerns for thirteen year olds.

The charities hope that the awareness campaign will get people talking and help to reduce the stigma attached to self-harming which prevents many young people from seeking help.

They have identified several key misconceptions around self-harm including:
- Self-harm is not a mental illness, nor is it an attempt to commit suicide.
- It doesn’t just affect girls. Boys self-harm too, but they are much less likely to tell anyone about it.
- Young people from all walks of life self-harm, regardless of their social or ethnic background.
- Self-harm is not a fashion fad, nor is it merely ‘attention seeking behaviour’.
- Most importantly, it is not easy for a young person to stop self-harming behaviour

Speaking on behalf of the charities, Emma Thomas, CEO of YouthNet, said: “More young people who self-harm are contacting our charities for help than ever before. What is really shocking though is that there are still so many young people who don’t know where to go for help. We hope that through our collective Self-Harm Awareness Day activity, many more will come to us.”

"There are many misconceptions surrounding self-harm and they affect the way GPs, nurses, parents and peers respond when a young person comes to them seeking help for self-harming behaviour. Too often the young people we speak to tell us that they have had a bad experience when they have tried to seek help.

"Unless we challenge these misconceptions and speak more openly and frankly about self-harm, the subject will remain taboo and thousands of young people will continue to suffer in silence."

You can support the campaign by using #selfharm on Twitter or by visiting:
www.childline.org.uk, www.selfharm.co.uk, www.youngminds.org.uk or www.thesite.org.

Posted 01/03/2013 by richard.hook@pavpub.com