Self-harm among young people has got worse during lockdown

The Mix Staff
A young woman is leaning against the wall on her phone

New research by The Mix and YouGov shows self-harm has increased due to the pandemic

To mark Self-Harm Awareness Day (1st March), The Mix, the charity supporting young people under 25, calls for more conversations about self-harm during the pandemic and how to access support.

Research carried out with YouGov shows that 34% of young people who have self-harmed in the past 12 months said their tendency to self-harm has increased due to coronavirus lockdowns. Of those who self-harmed at some point in their life, 38% self-harmed in the past 12 months, a 5% increase since March 2020.

Young people feel that the pandemic has prevented them from having the future and education they were hoping for.

Access to help for self-harm has been hit. Among young people who had self-harmed in the past 12 months, 40% have not accessed any support services during this time, and 30% of 16- to 25-year-olds said they found it more difficult to get access to services.

Some 42% of young people agreed that the stigma around self-harm would discourage them from accessing services if they needed them.

63% of young people think that self-harm is not spoken about enough in the media, with those who self-harmed in the past even more likely to agree with this (67%).

The Mix wants to start these conversations to empower young people to speak out about their experience of self-harm and to seek support when they need it.

Zoe Bailie, Director of Brand & Development at The Mix, commented:

“This research confirmed something we feared was happening; that young people are self-harming more because of the impact of the pandemic and that lockdown restrictions are preventing them from accessing the support they need. The data shows that those who are already struggling are being left behind, and we urgently need to raise awareness of the help we can offer for self-harm to close this gap.

We are calling for more conversations about self-harm during this tough time for young people and for raised awareness of the support that’s already available, such as our online community. It’s time to break the stigma around self-harm and let young people know they can seek the help they need and deserve.”

The main reasons for the increasing tendency to self-harm during lockdowns are anxiety about the future (52%) and worries about school or education (36%). This ties in with the findings that of those who had ever self-harmed, full-time students were more likely to say they had self-harmed in the past 12 months (46%) than young people who work (33%).

Today, The Mix is publishing a white paper, looking at self-harm behaviours during the pandemic, how they evolved in the last 12 months and what support is available to young people.

Notes to editors:

If you need any more information or to schedule an interview with one of our spokespeople, please contact Françoise Fracas (PR consultant): [email protected]
Phone: 07599494848 or 07766660755

All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. The total sample size was 1023 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 29th January – 3rd February 2021. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all UK 16–25-year-olds.

All assets, including the whitepaper and our case studies, can be accessed here:

Additional support content from The Mix is accessible here:

Reporting self-harm and choosing pictures

Self-harm is a sensitive subject. At The Mix, we believe that we need to allow more conversations to take place but we don’t want to trigger any dangerous behaviours.
In 2015, we published new data showing that a significant proportion of young people said that seeing pictures of self-harm make them ‘feel like hurting themselves’.

We support and champion responsible media reporting. Here are a few key principles:

  • Focus on feelings, not behaviours. Try to report underlying issues or motivations behind the self-harm, as opposed to detailing the behaviour itself.
  • Don’t be explicit about methods.
  • Avoid coverage of self-harming behaviours by celebrities. It could glamorise or prompt imitation behaviour.
  • Avoid phrases like ‘unsuccessful suicide attempt’. This attributes feelings of achievement or failure to taking one’s own life.
  • No images relating to self-injury should be used. This can be triggering and distressing for the audience.
  • Avoid presenting the behaviour as an appropriate solution to the problems, as people may interpret the behaviour as a positive coping strategy.

For more information about responsible reporting, please read the Samaritans’ latest guidelines.

About The Mix

The Mix is the UK’s leading digital charity for under 25s, reaching over 4 million young people each year. Whatever issue a young person is facing, The Mix is always there for them – via our website, over the phone or via social media. We connect young people to experts and their peers to talk about everything from money to mental health, homelessness to jobs, break-ups to drugs and more.

The Mix’s mission is to ensure that every young person can make an informed choice about their wellbeing – wherever and whenever they are. We aim to put young people at the centre of everything we do. – 0808 808 4994

On social: @TheMixUK


Published on 01-Mar-2021

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