Charities fear a mental health crisis among youngsters after figures revealed more than 300 were admitted to Northamptonshire hospitals after intentionally poisoning themselves or self-harming last year.
Mental health campaigners YoungMinds said it is “deeply concerning” figures for young people self-harming rose to record levels nationally amid the coronavirus pandemic.
NHS Digital data showed children aged between nine and 17 were admitted to Northampton General Hospital at least 171 times last year following incidents of self-harm or self-poisoning in 2020-21.
At Kettering General Hospital, there were at least 131 children admitted.
Across England, at least 20,520 hospital admissions for self-harm or poisoning for youngsters aged nine to 17 were recorded last year — up from 20,400 the year before and the highest number since records began in 2007-08.
YoungMinds says many young people find it hard to ask for help until they each a crisis point, and that even before the Covid-19 crisis began they struggled to access support.
Olly Parker, head of external affairs at the charity said: “It is deeply concerning to see that hospital admissions for self-harm admissions have risen to their highest since records began.
“The reasons why young people self-harm are often complex, but we know that traumatic experiences at a young age – like bereavement, bullying or abuse – can have a huge impact.
“The Government must invest in a network of early support hubs across the country so that all young people who are starting to struggle with their mental health are able to get support.”
Of the admissions last year at NGH, between 151 and 157 were for self-poisoning – excluding alcohol – and around 20 were for self-harm.
At Kettering, between 126 and 132 admissions were for self-poisoning – excluding alcohol – and between two and 14 were for self-harm.
Admissions are rounded to the nearest five, and exact numbers are not available when there are fewer than eight cases a year, to protect patient identity.
The NSPCC said the pandemic had been “extremely challenging” for young people – either for those isolated in abusive homes, or those adjusting to a different way of learning.
A spokeswoman said some children use self-harm to cope when they are overwhelmed with difficult feelings and emotions.
She added: “While children are incredibly resilient the pandemic has understandably taken a toll on their emotional wellbeing, which is why the NSPCC want to see the Government invest in an ambitious plan for children that includes more mental health support in both the classroom and the community.
“This will ensure children can access the mental health support they need before things reach crisis point.”