Many doctors do not know how to support young people who self-harm, according to a new study from mental health charity YoungMinds.

The report, compiled from interviews with 2,500 people across the UK, also suggests that teachers and parents feel equally unable to deal with the issue.

This research is said to be the first to combine the views of GPs, teachers, teenagers and parents on self-harm in the young.

Almost half of the 200 doctors questioned said they didn't understand the motivations of young people who harm themselves, and this has led to 3 in 4 young people saying they "don't know where to turn to talk about self-harm".

Professor Sue Bailey, President of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, said: "This report is a brave and timely call to action for us to set aside the rhetoric about self-harm. It challenges all professionals and parents that the best way to deal with a concern is to take decisive action in partnership with young people.

"As a child and adolescent psychiatrist about to undertake further research in this area, I recognise that increasing awareness and understanding of self-harm is very important. But we must also ensure that child and adolescent mental health services are properly resourced so they can provide the kind of specialist support that helps young people to recover."

More than 80% of doctors suggest they had do not receive enough training specific to self-harm.

While the Department of Health responded by saying it is working on new training resources aimed at helping those who work with young people to deal with mental health problems, YoungMinds policy director suggested the report should "set alarm bells ringing".

Lucy Russell added: "More and more young people are self-harming as a coping mechanism and parents and professionals are very frightened about how to respond.

"It is vital that we increase the knowledge and capability of parents and professionals so that they are able to support the thousands of young people who are suffering intense internal pain that's manifested externally."

Figures from the NHS show there has been a steady rise in the number of under-25s in England admitted to hospital after hurting themselves, from 22,555 in 2001 to just under 38,000 young people in 2010.

Posted 29/10/2012 by richard.hook@pavpub.com