One in 10 teens considered 'self-harm'

Published Friday, 16 May 2014
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More than a tenth of 16-year-olds in Northern Ireland have considered an overdose or self-harming, according to a new survey.

One in 10 teens considered 'self-harm'
One in ten teens surveyed have considered self-harm or overdosing. (© UTV)

Only a small minority sought professional help for serious emotional health problems which led to some wanting to "punish" themselves for their troubles, according to a university survey.

Dr Dirk Schubotz, from Queen's University Belfast, said: "This suggests that young people with mental health problems keep blaming themselves for these, rather than appreciating external stressors such as pressures arising from school work or financial difficulties."

The results of the Young Life and Times (YLT) survey carried out by academics from Queen's and the University of Ulster were published on Friday during Mental Health Awareness Week.

Dr Schubotz said: "These findings from the YLT survey show that despite the investment in mental health services in Northern Ireland, compared to five years ago, there has been virtually no change with regard to young people's experiences of stress and mental health problems.

"It is particularly significant to note that still only a small minority of 16-year-olds seek professional help when experiencing serious emotional health problems."

Thirteen per cent of those surveyed said they had at some point seriously thought about taking an overdose or harming themselves, six per cent within the last month;

A quarter experienced serious personal, emotional or mental health problems at some point in the past year - but just over a third sought professional help;

Thirteen per cent said they self-harmed, eight per cent more than once.

The report said: "The most likely reason given by these young people for doing this was that they 'wanted to punish themselves'."

The research for the survey was carried out last year when 1,367 16-year-olds across Northern Ireland took part in the survey undertaken by ARK, a joint initiative by Queen's University and the University of Ulster.

Further university research also showed that a fifth of p7 children felt their parents did not have enough money for special things.

Nearly a quarter said their families had difficulties affording their school uniform whilst holidays organised by schools were financially difficult for nearly four in 10 families.

Dr Paula Devine, author of the ARK Research Update on Financial Wellbeing, said: "The 2013 YLT survey shows that around four in ten families with teenage children find it difficult to make ends meet. The data from the KLT and YLT surveys clearly identify the financial pressures upon families and will be an important tool for government, in particular to monitor progress related to its Child Poverty Strategy which aims for a sustained reduction in poverty."

© UTV News
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