STARTLING statistics released this month suggests the rate of hospital admissions of young people in Northumberland following self-harm was higher than anywhere else in England.

Each year, every director of public health has a statutory duty to write an annual report on the health of the local population, which is then published by the local authority.

National statistics showed that the rate of hospital admissions for self-harm incidents in those aged between 10 and 24 in 2017-2018 were measured at a rate of 421.2 per 100,000 population. The rate in the North-East was at 458 per 100,000.

However, the rate was much higher in Northumberland with a total of 341 admissions, translating to a rate of 720.5.

The figures sparked a mixed reaction among counsellors at Children North East, an organisation which provides support to thousands of young people across the region.

Rhoda Morrow, a counselling co-ordinator, said: “I think there’s been an increase generally in young people’s awareness of mental health. There’s talk of a rise in hospital admissions but perhaps there’s not been an increase in incidents but just more admissions as it’s usually been dealt with behind closed doors.

“That is putting a positive spin on the figures and we would say the message we get is that there are more people asking for help each year, and it is about getting the facilities to meet that demand.”

She continued to say there was help out there for young people undergoing mental health issues.

In 2018-2019, Children North East’s Young People’s Service helped 1,968 young people, and 609 of those people saw professional counsellors within the service.

The service’s Youth Link Northumberland scheme helped 51 people in the county during the same period, with young people, often students, volunteering to help other young people in a similar age range to access social activities, or chat through their worries and concerns.

Rhoda said: “Self-harm on its own isn’t usually the big problem; it’s about finding out why the person has done that.

“Generally, self harm is a coping mechanism and people don’t want to hurt themselves on a serious scale or kill themselves.

“What is important is to let people know they can talk to anybody, and who the best people are.”

More information about the services Children North East provide can be access online at

In her report to Northumberland County Council, the county’s director of public health, Liz Morgan, emphasised the link between mental and physical health.

In the document called Mental Wealth, she explained that she chose the topic to focus on as it was an area where the county continued to see inequalities across communities, as well as being one of the themes of the Northumberland Joint Health and Wellbeing Strategy.

A big part of the report highlighted the negative impact that ‘“toxic stress” had on childhood development.

“I’m absolutely passionate about getting it right in the early years,” Liz stressed.

The document noted that 67 per cent of the population had at least one “adverse childhood experience”, which had the biggest impact on a child’s mental and physical development and health.

Children with four or more of these experiences were 30 times more likely to take their own lives in later years.