Self-harm is being talked about more and more, and we know it’s happening in primary as well as secondary schools. It’s common behaviour in young people, and as a member of school staff you may find yourself in the position of supporting a young person who is self-harming. This can be difficult and you may feel a lack of confidence and uncertainty on how to respond.
If you are feeling out of your depth at times, you are certainly not alone. Three in four young people don’t know where to turn to talk about self-harm and two in three teachers report that they don’t know what to say to a young person who self-harms. Young Minds have provided simple guidance for taking those first steps:
We know this is hard…
Self-harm is surrounded by myths and misconceptions. The topic can provoke all sorts of strong emotions in us all. We may feel angry, bewildered, frustrated or sympathetic. The child may be exhibiting very challenging behaviour, but it is imperative to focus on their needs and not this behaviour. Make sure you find the time and support you need to process your experiences.
What is Self-Harm?
Self-harm describes any way in which a young person might harm themselves or put themselves at risk in order to cope with difficult thoughts, feelings or experiences. It’s important to remember that the self-harm is not the central issue, but is the coping method that the young person has chosen to deal with something that is too painful to bear.
Read more of what young people say why they self-harm.
Why do people Self-Harm?
There are many reasons that a young person may self-harm. For some, there are times when the present is just too painful. Something may trigger a past memory, or a current situation may be too difficult to bear. Self-harm is a way that the young person can escape from the unbearable, emotional present. There might be a different reason every time for some young people and they may not be able to express in words why they do it or what the reason is.
Young Minds have produced a number of resources to help:
Book onto Young Minds CPD accredited Self- Harm Training Course for school staff: This will cover more on:
- developing the resilience of young people vulnerable to self-harm using proven strategies
- how you can assess, minimise and manage risks effectively, and exploring alternative coping strategies
- developing your own tailored self-harm policy
The next course is on the 19 April at the YoungMinds office, London SE1 1YW. Book Now.
More Helpful Places:
Remember: Self-Harm can present significant risk. Make sure a referral is made to the relevant professional and Safeguarding Lead who can make an informed assessment of the risk to the young person.