A woman who self-harmed as a teen has spoken about her experience with Eamonn Holmes, after a study by the Children’s Society found that almost one in four 14-year-old girls had self-harmed.
Laura Kilvington, 28, a freelance writer, told Holmes that she started self-harming at 11.
“I was very young when I started self harming, I was 11 and I’d just started high school and it wasn't something that was widely talked about back then,” she said.
“It is something that I felt very ashamed about, and it was only when I started to talk about it that I could start to get the help I needed.
“Unfortunately it was a little too late for me and I’ve had to struggle through adulthood as well. I also find a lot of people thought it was attention seeking so that’s something that’s stopped me talking about it before.”
Ms Kilvington explained that self-harming can be a “release”.
“A lot of people think self harming is just cutting yourself, and it’s not that, I was hitting myself, banging my head against things, tearing out my hair as well as other things, and it was a way for me release and deal with the things at the time that I didn’t have the answer for,” she said.
- Read more: Julia Hartley-Brewer: 'I deliberately drank too much when I was 14 and I don’t think I was self-harming'
“That’s what it was for me and I think many others could relate to that too.”
She added that she had been recently diagnosed with bipolar disorder and had had a relapse of self-harming, after 11 years of not doing it.
'A lot of bad experiences' getting help
Co-host Jane Moore asked about her experiences of getting help, and Ms Kilvington said it had been difficult.
“It wasn’t easy, I had a lot of bad experiences with mental health services in my area before I was happy with it. A lot more needs to be done,” she said.
Analysis by the Royal College of Psychiatrists in February found that mental health trusts in the UK were receiving less funding than they were six years ago, once inflation was taken into account.
In 2016-17 there were over 1.3 million referrals to mental health services. 69% of those entered treatment, but only 58% finished a course of treatment, and of those that scored highly on questionnaires to assess the level of their complaint, only 49% were classed as having recovered by the end of their treatment, according to data from NHS Digital.
'More funding needed'
“It never ceases to amaze me how many adults I talk to, and I notice marks on their arms and hands, and I think what is the story behind that? Do more people do it than they care to admit to?” asked Holmes.
“Yeah definitely,” Ms Kilvington said.
“I’ve spoken to a number of adults that say it’s not just something young people go through. “Unless we get to the problem when people are young, it’s something they’ll struggle with for the rest of their lives.”
Jo Estrin, of the charity Young Minds, said more funding into child and adolescent mental health services [CAMHS] was key.
“There needs to be more funding to make sure children who reach out for help do get it and can feel secure in the fact they’ll get it, and we put a proper emphasis on early support so when problems first develop, young people can work through them,” she said.
She also advised parents to talk openly to their children about mental health “so it isn’t a big heavy thing to approach”.