Understanding the journey of self-harm in Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire

  • 7th May 2024

The Self-Harm Matters Health Integration Team contributed to a technical briefing around self-harm produced by Bristol City Council’s Population Health Specialist Team this year.

‘Understanding Self-harm in Children and Young People aged 10-24 years in Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire’ aimed to help understand self-harm in greater detail as it has been highlighted as an area of concern for the region and also across the South West. A report by the Office for Health Improvement and Disparities* found that the South West found that the South West has the second highest emergency admissions rate for intentional self-harm for adults in England and the highest rate of repeat emergency admissions for intentional self-harm nationally in children and young people.

The Council’s Population Health Specialist Team reviewed Emergency Department attendances and hospital admissions for self-harm across in Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire (BNSSG) over a four-year period between 2019-20 to 2022-23 using a linked population health dataset (where hospital data is linked to a range of other related health data to provide a contextual picture).

The analysis has provided new insights into self-harm across the system in BNSSG for emergency department attendances and hospital admissions. It has helped to develop an understanding of who is presenting for self-harm, including demographics and clinical characteristics, and a deeper understanding of how children and young people are interacting with the system. This is helping to shape partnership discussions and next steps in terms of addressing the needs and inequalities identified.

The work was made possible thanks to the collective efforts of Local Authority Public Health Teams across BNSSG, Population Health Management and Business Intelligence Teams in BNSSG Integrated Care Board and Bristol Health Partners Self-harm Matters Health Integration Team.

Collaborating to address a complex public health issue such as self-harm is important to develop a detailed understanding of needs, trends, risk factors and inequalities.  The process was iterative, reviewing the data and discussing with clinical and public health specialist leads to add context and develop understanding of what the data was saying.  Having a detailed picture also provides an opportunity to bring partners together and work to prioritise actions.

The briefing is helping to inform and shape a Mental Health Strategy and action plan in North Somerset and feeding into work around crisis pathways for children and young people’s mental health.

To request a copy of the technical briefing, contact Nia Reeves, Principal Public Health Intelligence Specialist – Population Health, Bristol City Council at [email protected]


*’OHID (2022) Understanding Emergency Hospital Admissions for Intentional Self-harm in the South West’