Society-wide approach needed to address 'extremely serious' self-poisoning rates in young people, says RCGP

Publication date: 11 September 2018

Responding to new findings in the British Journal of General Practice (BJGP) on the self-poisoning rates of young people in England, Chair of the Royal College of GPs Prof Helen Stokes-Lampard, said: "The mental health crisis facing young people in our society is extremely serious and the findings of this new study show a very worrying rise in more young people engaging in self-harm as a way of dealing with their declining mental health.

"The self-poisoning methods being used by young people –  whether that be the misuse of paracetamol, alcohol, opioids, or something else – can have dangerous implications on a person's short and long term physical and mental health. It is particularly troubling that there has been a big rise in paracetamol poisoning of children as young as 10 years, especially as these drugs are so readily available, both in and out of the home.

"GPs play an important role in identifying and then managing the care of children and young patients with mental health conditions and we know that alternatives to drug therapy, such as talking therapies and CBT can be very beneficial for young people with mental health conditions, but access to these is often patchy across the country, especially services targeted for young people.

"Self-poisoning in young people is also linked to a much higher likelihood of suicide within 10 years so it is crucial that we tackle this with a strong society-wide approach which includes parents, schools, healthcare professionals and government working together to provide high quality mental health treatment and support to those at-risk.

"Mental health is an enduring priority for the College, and we have developed a number of resources for GPs and our teams to support them in delivering the best care possible for patients with mental health conditions of all ages."

Further Information

RCGP Press office: 020 3188 7633/7574/7575
Out of hours: 0203 188 7659

Notes to editor

The Royal College of General Practitioners is a network of more than 52,000 family doctors working to improve care for patients. We work to encourage and maintain the highest standards of general medical practice and act as the voice of GPs on education, training, research and clinical standards.

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