(UK) "Number of children at nursery and primary schools who are self-harming is rising rapidly"

Jan 23, 2018, (UK) Metro: Children, 3, found to be self-harming while at school New figures have revealed that the number of children at nursery and primary schools who are self-harming is rising rapidly. But reports suggest that referrals to mental health professionals – often made by distraught teachers who feel unable to help – are regularly being rejected. The new data from NHS Digital was obtained by the Guardian this week that they say shows in the five years to 2017, hospital admissions for self-harm by children aged three to nine in England increased by 27 percent. Admissions jumped by 13 percent among three to nine year olds between 2016 and 2017 alone, with 107 children admitted to hospital for self-harm. At the same time, teachers say they are struggling to get help for the children who need it. A survey by NAHT, the headteachers’ union, showed that 56 percent of headteachers who tried to get mental health support for their pupils found it ‘difficult’ and more than one in five failed, citing a lack of NHS services or budget constraints. The YoungMinds charity says £85million was cut from children’s mental health services in the five years to 2015. And in Norfolk, Suffolk, Hertfordshire and Nottinghamshire, more than 60 percent of children referred for mental health treatment were rejected, the report found. Teachers spoke about children ‘biting, punching or slapping themselves’ in classes. Jon Robinson, who teaches at a school in Birmingham, told the Guardian one of his eight-year-old pupils went from bubbly to withdrawn and stopped wearing skirts. ‘After we talked to the children about self-harm during Health Week, she told her teacher her friend had been self-harming – scratching her legs,’ he said. … Suzanne Skeete, a mental health worker, runs Tappy Twins, a non-profit social enterprise that sends counsellors into 50 nurseries and schools in England to provide support and therapy for children. She told the newspaper at least 500 primary school children have reported to Tappy Twins that they self-harm and the organisation has waiting lists full of four to 11-year-olds. ‘We are seeing more and more younger cases of self-harm – and we suspect there’s a lot of children we don’t know about,’ she said. The Department for Education says training for teachers on self-harm is available through, a government funded online portal with advice on specific mental health problems and how to support them. … The government is currently consulting on a green paper on children and young people’s mental health, which will encourage every school to have a designated lead for mental health by 2025, as well as improving the links between schools and NHS services. … But the survey also found nearly a quarter of teachers did not feel equipped to identify behaviour linked to mental health issues and more than a third felt ill prepared to teach children in their class who have mental health needs.