‘Just keep talking’ to your kids, expert says

CHILDREN struggling with their sexual identity and young teenage girls were the most common to report self-harming to one mental health service in Warwick this year.

Of the 433 young people who sought help for stress, social problems and mental health, many young gay and lesbians were struggling with self-harm, headspace manager Sophia McLucas said.

Ms McLucas said the centre had seen a noticeable increase in reported self-harm in the past year, and still had more than 300 young people on "open files" seeking help.

"It's definitely more females than males, and a lot of them have relationship issues, whether romantic or parental - that tends to be a lot of what we're seeing," she said.

"But self-harm is more predominant in young LGBTI people in Warwick, and while we have a fairly high indigenous population, we're not seeing a lot of self-harm among Aboriginal children, so that goes against what's happening nationally."

Ms McLucas said many children were also suffering from bullying "whether face to face or cyber bullying".

"I think it's both, it's really 24/7 and children can't get away from bullying these days - it's very distressing for young people," she said.

"We're also starting to see it (self-harm) in younger and younger people - we've talked about it and I think it's because children are expose to so much more earlier through social media, so that could be a part of it."

Ms McLucas said while self-harm was a "touchy subject to talk about", it was important that people did talk about it, and that parents should "just keep talking" to their children.

"I have heard of some groups who meet in bathrooms at lunchtime and are self-harming together, I don't know how prevalent it is, but think it's still very hidden," she said.

"Keep the lines of communication as open as you can - I really also believe in that motto that it takes a village to raise a child.

"Maybe (the children have) an aunty or a friend or a teacher to talk to, but just keep talking about it with people you trust."

Topics:  mental health self harm suicide

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