NHS data shows a 68% rise in hospital admissions through self-harm by girls under 17 in the past decade.

Girls and young women are experiencing a “gathering crisis” in their mental health linked to conflict with friends, fears about their body image and pressures created by social media, experts have warned.

Dr Bernadka Dubicka, the chair of the child and adolescent faculty at the Royal College of Psychiatrists, responded to the NHS data by commenting that social media such as Snapchat and Instagram “can be damaging and even destructive” to girls’ mental wellbeing, said Dubicka. “There’s a pressure for young people to be involved 24/7 and keep up with their peer group or they will be left out and socially excluded.”

Use of social media was also contributing to a growing culture of sleep deprivation among young people, which could both be a symptom of mental illness and also increase the risk of one developing, including depression, she added.

Matt Allman, Headteacher, said: “The NHS report is concerning but only confirms the experiences of those in education who will spot this pattern at the chalk-face. We are working hard on supporting social media use through teaching, Focus Weeks, pastoral guidance, and we have prohibited the use of mobile phones during the school day. We would urge all parents to familiarize themselves with their children’s social media contact and consider appropriate restrictions on mobile phone usage, for example in turning it off so they can focus on sleep or homework.”

For more information on the reports visit: https://www.theguardian.com/society/2017/sep/23/stress-anxiety-fuel-mental-health-crisis-girls-young-women