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New research published in The Lancet, conducted by The University of Manchester, Keele University, University of Exeter, and mental health research charity The McPin Foundation has revealed a large rise in eating disorder diagnoses and self-harm among teenage girls in the UK in the first two years since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Researchers found that episodes of self-harm among girls aged 13-16 were 38% higher than had been predicted.

The research also found that eating disorders among girls aged 13-16 were 42% higher than would be expected, while levels among 17-19 year-old girls were 32% higher.

Our own data insights from our Shout text support service show we took 365,000 conversations with teenage girls under 18 from March 2020 - March 2022. Nearly 98,000 of these conversations mentioned self-harm and more than 26,500 mentioned eating disorders as an issue. They are among the top 10 issues that young women and girls contact the service to talk about. During the pandemic, the service saw the number of people contacting us for support treble.


A teenage girl texting on her phone. A new report has found rates of self-harm and eating disorder diagnoses were higher than predicted during the first two years since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Dr Fiona Pienaar, Senior Clinical Advisor at Mental Health Innovations said:

"This research reflects our concerns about the number of conversations that we have with young girls, who are under the age of 18, about self-harm and disordered eating. Our data reveals the many underlying challenges young girls are facing, particularly 'post-pandemic', including, concerns about their future, the cost of living crisis, social anxiety and relationship complexities. These, and other overwhelming life challenges may lead them to self-harm or control their eating in some way in an attempt to cope with their struggles. Early intervention is essential. When a young girl decides to reach out for help, access to initial supportive services such as Shout, which is available 24/7, is key to reaching this age group.

As a digital, free, 24/7, confidential service, Shout plays a crucial role in helping provide support at scale to young women and girls who are struggling to cope with their mental health.

Find out more about how we're working to support teenage girls with their mental health and how your organisation can work with us below.

If you'd like to find out more about how your organisation can work with us to provide mental health support to more people across the UK, please contact us below.