Psychologists concerned about self-harm “contagion effect” among young people

Rising rates of mental health problems and self-harm

The Age reports that over 5000 children and teenagers were taken to hospital for self-harm in Victoria over two years.


“There is a contagion effect going on,” said Professor Marilyn Campbell, spokeswoman for the Australian Psychologists and Counsellors in Schools (APACS).

"It has been normalised ... they are seeing a whole lot of self-harm depicted on social media or on TV, and they think ‘maybe that will work for me’.”

Quantifying the magnitude of the rise in self-harm is complicated by the probability that teenagers could be more willing to talk about it than previous generations; teachers and counsellors are probably more adept at detecting it; and research is getting better at capturing it.

A 2015 national survey found more than one in ten 12- to 17-year-olds reported self-harming – amounting to 186,000 children and teenagers deliberately hurting themselves.

Females reported self-harming at twice the rate of males. Among children and teenagers with depression, a quarter of boys and more than half of girls reported self-harming, the 2015 survey found.

In many cases, self-harming was a way of coping with the psychological and emotional anguish in students with serious mental-health problems.

Read full article at The Age

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