Young woman who battled self-harm says social media fuelled her mental illness

A young woman who battled anorexia and self-harm has said that using social media in a negative way fuelled her mental illness.

Lara Ferguson used social media hashtags that revolved around self-harm, which she believes subsequently encouraged the feeling of needing to hurt herself.

"For me, it wasn't personally the social media that made me self harm in the first place, but when I was already in that dark place, it kind of acted as the fuel," she said.

"I'd use it in a really negative way. I was looking at hashtags around self harm and that was completely feeding into my illness."

An NHS report has revealed that the number of girls being admitted to hospital for self-harming has doubled compared to two decades ago.

A corresponding rise was not seen in boys.

The NSPCC described the statistics as "heartbreaking", with experts suggesting that girls are more susceptible to the pressures of social media.

"If you look at social media, my hunch is that girls are probably more sensitive to some of those factors than boys," said Jon Goldin of the Royal College of Psychiatrists' child and adolescent faculty vice-chairman.

The NSPCC said it gave 15,376 counselling sessions about self-harm last year, the equivalent to 42 per day.