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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

Adolescent health
British Medical Association
Board of Science and Education
December 2003

This report focuses on the problems facing adolescents and examines the evidence surrounding adolescent health, behaviour and interventions.

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 (2002).

Sir David Carter
Chairman, Board of Science and Education
December 2003

Inquiry examines self-harm rates.

A national inquiry to examine rising rates of self-harm among young people is due to be launched.
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 high.
The two-year inquiry will be chaired by Catherine McLoughlin CBE.
She is a former deputy chief nursing officer and current chairwoman of the Nurses' Welfare Service.
High rates
Rates of self-harm in the UK have increased sharply over the past decade.
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 to self-harm.
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 into account.
"One of our key priorities for the national inquiry is that it should reflect the views and experience of young people who self-harm.
"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 those problems.
"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."

SOURCE: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/3580365.stm

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