Rising rates of youth hospitalised after self-harming

Across the country, 685 people died by suicide in the year to 30 June. Photo: Getty
The government has committed almost $20 million to boost health services in decile 1 to 5 schools. Photo: Getty Images
Hundreds more young people are being admitted to hospital with self-inflicted injuries.

There were 3081 hospitalisations of young people under the age of 20 for self-harm last year - up more than 200 on the year before.

The vast majority of those hurting themselves were girls and rangatahi Māori made up about 30 percent of those ending up in hospital.

Youth mental health campaigner Lucy McSweeny said it was time for urgent action.

"The numbers of self-harm hospitalisations are extremely distressing and far too high and increasing," she said.

"Those numbers exclude the many people who will self-harm and not tell anyone or the many people who may self-harm but not end up in hospital."

Lucy McSweeny said she wanted to see mental health education included in the school curriculum.

She said this would also help young people who did not self-harm, but had friends who do.

Young people were amazing at offering support, she said, but it was about teaching them how to seek the best help for their friends in tough times.

Jean Andrews from the Counsellors' Association said school services were snowed under with serious cases of self-harm, which could include near suicidal behaviour.

She said that meant minor-to-moderate cases were not receiving the attention they needed.

Ms Andrews said more people may be ending up in hospital because there were not enough early interventions.

"We are certainly seeing self-harming increasing in the intermediate school age groups," she said.

"Also at high school, they are struggling to access counsellors because there is just simply not enough available in schools in particular but also in the community."

Ms Andrews said counselling also needed to become far more normalised than it currently was.

The government has committed almost $20 million to boost health services in decile 1 to 5 schools.

A pilot program putting counsellors into primary schools was also promised as part of the Labour and New Zealand First coalition deal.

Associate Education Minister Tracey Martin said she was interested in a Waikato program that had been running for quite some time.

"It's professional counsellors who are not stationed inside of schools, but have been working with clusters of schools," she said.

"I believe that's something I would like to try and convince my Cabinet colleagues for us to roll out over the next year into some other schools, to see if we can start to scale that up."

Where to get help:

Need to Talk? Free call or text 1737 any time to speak to a trained counsellor, for any reason.

Lifeline: 0800 543 354 or text HELP to 4357

Suicide Crisis Helpline: 0508 828 865 / 0508 TAUTOKO (24/7). This is a service for people who may be thinking about suicide, or those who are concerned about family or friends.

Depression Helpline: 0800 111 757 (24/7) or text 4202

Samaritans: 0800 726 666 (24/7)

Youthline: 0800 376 633 (24/7) or free text 234 (8am-12am), or email talk@youthline.co.nz

What's Up: online chat (3pm-10pm) or 0800 WHATSUP / 0800 9428 787 helpline (12pm-10pm weekdays, 3pm-11pm weekends)

Kidsline (ages 5-18): 0800 543 754 (24/7)

Rural Support Trust Helpline: 0800 787 254

Healthline: 0800 611 116

Rainbow Youth: (09) 376 4155

If it is an emergency and you feel like you or someone else is at risk, call 111.

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