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Inpatient self-harm on the rise in UK

Thursday 5th April 2018
Self-harm among mental health inpatients is on the rise in the UK, new figures reveal. Image: KatarzynaBialasiewicz via iStock
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A growing number of mental health patients who are receiving treatment in hospitals or institutions in the UK are committing self-harm, new data shows.

According to figures obtained by the Guardian from almost half of NHS Trusts in England, the number of inpatients harming themselves has almost doubled in the last five years alone.

This highlights that significantly more resources and mental health support workers are needed in order to ensure mental health inpatients are being protected and cared for as best as possible after being hospitalised.

Statistics show that the number of self-harm incidents reported among inpatients in 2017 came in at 28,585, marking a sharp rise from 2013 when 15,489 incidents were recorded.

At the same time, the number of individual mental health patients committing acts of self-harm rose from 4,432 to 6,326, which suggests that more needs to be done to prevent this figure from increasing further, and to ensure current inpatients are getting the best level of support available.

Data shows that the Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust has seen the biggest increase in self-harm over the past five years, with the number of inpatients self-harming rising from 253 to 706 during this period and recorded incidents nearly tripling from 615 to 1,866.

Self-harm is also on the rise among the general population, with the latest edition of NHS Digital's Adult Psychiatric Morbidity Survey from 2014 finding that 6.4 per cent of 16 to 74-year-olds admit to harming themselves in the past. Just seven years earlier, this figure was 3.8 per cent, demonstrating that self-harm rates are rapidly growing.

Speaking to the Guardian, MP Luciana Berger, president of the Labour Campaign for Mental Health, commented: "Too many patients do not have access to the crucial contact and therapeutic support that they need to ensure their wellbeing, even when in inpatient care.

"This rise in self-harm is unacceptable and more must urgently be done to provide patients with adequate levels of care."

Written by Angela Newbury

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