Young people to be involved as authorities in Milton Keynes propose stepping up action against self harm

Young people
Young people

Public health authorities in Milton Keynes are stepping up their efforts to stem a tide of self harm that has been sweeping the city.

Figures being shown to a meeting this week reveal that in the two years to June 2018 the South Central Ambulance Service dealt with 1,173 episodes of self-harm among people of all ages in MK, including ‘non-opiate overdoses’ and self wounding including cuts and stabs.

There have also been more than 160 hospital admissions for young people aged 10-24 in the year 2017-18, with young women being most prone to self harming.

The Health & Adult Social Care Scrutiny Committee, meeting tomorrow (Wednesday), will be told that self-harm is a major public health concern. Public health officials say addressing it is a key part of suicide prevention as the majority of those who take their own lives have a history of self-harm.

But the official figures are just the tip of the iceberg.

In their report, Marianne Vinson, public health principal, and Marimba Carr, public health registrar, say that national figures suggest that there may be 1,105 cases of self-harm in 12-17 year olds that are “unreported or hidden in the community”. The total population of 12-17 year-olds in MK is 19,300.

Now the committee will be told how the public health authorities, the NHS and schools are stepping up their action to step up action. These include:

> Raising awareness of emotional wellbeing, breaking the stigma and improve mental health literacy.

> Ensuring information on the support available and how to access it is easy to find.

> Expanding on peer-support programmes for children and young people and parents.

> Evaluating if current anti-bullying policies and approaches are effective and in line with evidence based practice.

And the report concludes with an admission that the authorities “need to get better at listening to and acting on the voice of young people, and involving them in the co-production of services.”