Government must fund early intervention initiatives to better support young people who self-harm
Young people who self-harm are made to wait until they reach crisis point before having any chance of receiving support, writes Liz Twist MP | PA Images
The APPG on Suicide and Self-Harm Prevention heard how support arrives much too late due to service waiting times, thresholds and all-too-common stigma.
Yesterday, the APPG on Suicide and Self-Harm Prevention launched the report of an inquiry we’ve been carrying out since the start of this year.
The inquiry aimed to understand what difficulties young people who are self-harming face when they are trying to get support, and what can be done to improve their experiences.
Our cross-party group of MPs and peers spoke to experts, health professionals and young people with experience of self-harm. We heard how support arrives much too late due to service waiting times, thresholds and all-too-common stigma.
We found that young people who self-harm are made to wait until they reach crisis point before having any chance of receiving support.
One of the young people who gave evidence to the inquiry, Jess*, struggled to access support services for self-harm and shared her experiences with the inquiry. Jess said: “I wouldn’t have cost the NHS so much if I was helped earlier. I was in a much better place when I presented than when I was admitted.”
Jess also told the inquiry that although she was eventually successfully referred to Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS), this support took far too long to arrive, in which time her mental health had declined significantly to the point she was too ill to utilise the help offered.
The inquiry also heard how particular groups of young people, such as those from ethnic minorities, those who identify as LGBT, or are autistic particularly struggle to access support due to problems with service outreach and design.
Whilst these barriers to support pre-date the pandemic, the inquiry learnt that these problems are likely to be exacerbated by it.
The APPG is now calling on the Government to fund and implement a new system of early intervention to better support young people, before they reach crisis point. The panel is asking for funding to be targeted specifically at early intervention initiatives delivered by community support services such as youth clubs.
Our recommendations include calls on the Government to encourage the creation of free, community-based mental health services to provide immediate support in a non-clinical setting.
We’re also calling for financial backing to put the third sector on a sustainable footing, so it can continue to support vulnerable young people.
The full report can be found at www.samaritans.org/appg
*not her real name
Liz Twist is the Labour MP for Blaydon and chair of the APPG for Suicide and Self-Harm Prevention.