Issues - Child Health
This report 'Adolescent Health' was published
by the British Medical Association's (BMA's) Board of Science
and Education in December 2003. The report is aimed at healthcare
professionals and it provides an overview of adolescent health
issues and the policy environment. The report reviews four
important areas in adolescent health: nutrition, exercise
and obesity; smoking, drinking and drug use; mental health;
and sexual health. The full-text 66 page report is in PDF,
which requires Adobe Acrobat Reader.http://www.bma.org.uk/ap.nsf/Content/AdolescentHealth
This report focuses on the problems facing adolescents and
examines the evidence surrounding adolescent health, behaviour
It reviews four important areas in adolescent
health: nutrition, exercise and obesity; smoking, drinking
and drug use; mental health; and sexual health.
For each area this report discusses the prevalence of the
problems involved, examines which adolescents are affected,
describes the interventions used to address the issues and
evaluates the effectiveness of these strategies.
This report is intended to raise the profile
of adolescent health and to help inform future policy. In
addition, this report acts as an information resource for
healthcare professionals, providing an overview of adolescent
health issues and the policy environment.
The Board of Science and Education, a standing
committee of the British Medical Association (BMA), provides
an interface between the medical profession, the government
and the public.
One major aim of the Board is to contribute
to the improvement of public health. It has developed policies
on a wide range of issues such as alcohol, smoking and eating
disorders, and specific groups such as children and the elderly.
The Board's work on public health has resulted
in a number of publications including School sex education:
good practice and policy (1997), The misuse of drugs (1997),
Alcohol and young people (1999), Growing up in Britain: ensuring
a healthy future for our children (1999), Eating disorders,
body image and the media (2000) and Sexually transmitted infections
Inquiry examines self-harm rates.
The UK has the highest self-harm rates in Europe. One in 10
teenagers deliberately hurts themselves and 24,000 are admitted
to hospital each year.
The inquiry, organised by the Mental Health Foundation and
the Camelot Foundation, will examine why the numbers are so
The two-year inquiry will be chaired by Catherine McLoughlin
She is a former deputy chief nursing officer and current chairwoman
of the Nurses' Welfare Service.
Rates of self-harm in the UK have increased sharply over the
The most common method of self-harm involves repeatedly cutting
the skin, but others include burning, scalding, hitting or
scratching, hair pulling or swallowing small amounts of toxic
substances to cause discomfort or damage.
The average age for children starting to self-harming is 13
years old, but children as young as seven have been found
Certain groups of young people are more susceptible to self-harming,
such as young Asian women and young female prisoners.
Whilst young women outnumber young men in the ratio of seven
to one, rates of self-harm among young men and boys have almost
doubled since the 1980s.
"Self-harm among young people is an issue that is much-debated,
but we lack a proper understanding of it, and have a limited
capacity to respond effectively in the areas of policy and
services," said Ms McLoughlin.
"The task facing us is to understand why more young people
seem to be harming themselves, how we can engage with them,
and above all, what we can do to help."
Susan Elizabeth, director of the Camelot Foundation said the
stress of modern life was often thought to blame.
She told BBC Breakfast: "It seems the more stresses that
young people have in their lives the more it seems they are
turning to self-harm as dealing with dealing with those stresses."
She said the inquiry would take the views of young people
"One of our key priorities for the national inquiry is
that it should reflect the views and experience of young people
"To achieve this, we will be consulting regularly with
five sites across the UK, where groups of young people who
self-harm already meet."
Katie Foulser, 20, used to cut herself up to 10 times a day.
She has since set up the Self Harm Alliance to provide a resource
for other young people.
"There was little help available," she said. "I
went to my GP and she was quite supportive. But it was only
when I looked on the internet and had private counselling
that I started to improve."
Dr Andrew McCulloch, chief executive of the Mental Health
Foundation, said: "The increase in self-harm is one of
a number of indicators in the mental health field that show
something is wrong.
"It may be visible evidence of growing problems facing
our young people, or of a growing inability to respond to
"There is a desire across the health and social care
spectrum to develop appropriate responses, but the evidence
base is limited. Self-harm is a complex issue, and our inquiry
will have to be broad in its outlook."