PARENTS are being urged to be aware of the signs of self injury in their children, as part of a campaign to mark International Youth Day today.

Self harming is more common than many people realise, especially among younger people, according to NHS Dorset CCG.

A survey of people aged 15-16 years carried out in the UK in 2002 estimated that more than 10 per cent of girls and more than three per cent of boys had self injured in the previous year.

In most cases, people who self injure often do it to help them cope with unbearable and overwhelming emotional issues.

NHS Dorset CCG is now working with local partners to help inform parents where they can get more information and where they can go for help if they are concerned about their children or other children they know.

Wendy Thorogood, designated safeguarding nurse with NHS Dorset CCG, said: “We want to use the theme of this year's International Youth Day, 'Mental Health Matters’, as an opportunity to get people openly and honestly discussing the issue of self injury. It is important to understand that it is not limited to any specific group – it can affect any young person /vulnerable adult from any social class.

“Self injury can take many forms and is not limited to people cutting their skin – it could be misusing alcohol of drugs, deliberately starving themselves or consuming harmful substances such as poison. We are asking all parents in Dorset to look out for the signs and if they are concerned seek further help or speak to their GP.”

For more information ,visit Dorset HealthCare’s website or Youthscape’s website, or Mind (a mental health charity) or