03 Nov'17

Experts suggest that the increase in self-harming amongst girls is a result of social media

The Guardian reports on new NHS data that reveals the number of girls (aged 17 and below) admitted to hospital in England because of self-harm has increased from 10,500 to 17,500 a year over the past ten years. This amounts to a rise of 68%.


The increase rate of boys being admitted to hospital as a result of self-harm is lower; the rise over the last decade is 26%. The rising number of mental health problems coincide with the launch and explosion of social media.


Dr Bernadka Dubicka, Chair of the Child and Adolescent Faculty at the Royal College of Psychiatrists, said in response to these statistics ‘Emotional problems in young girls have been significantly, and very worryingly, on the rise over the past few years.’


Dubicka adds, ‘We don’t have the resources to meet the demand.’


NHS’s data is supported by a research project conducted by University College London and University of Liverpool that was released in September of this year. Researchers surveyed 10,000 teenagers born in 2000-2001 about emotional issues. They found that 24% of 14-year-old girls and 9% of the same-aged boys reported experiencing depressive symptoms.


Reflecting on this research, the Chief Policy Advisor for the organisation YoungMinds Dr Marc Bush stated, ‘We know that teenage girls face a huge range of pressures, including stress at school, body image issues, bullying and the pressure created by social media.’


Instagram was ranked the highest for causing negative thinking of body image  in a survey conducted by the Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH) and the Young Health Movement(YHM). RSPH surveyed just under 1500 14-24-year olds asking them how they felt each of the most popular social media platforms impact their health and well-being.


In response to these findings, RSPH and Young Health Movement list recommendations for social media to follow. These include: a pop-up that warns users when they have been using social media for a long period of time, identifying users who could be suffering from mental health issues by their posts and identifying and labelling photos that have been digitally altered.