No Harm Done initiative supports schools to handle incidents of self-harm

Written by: Pete Henshaw | Published:
Advice: The new films and resource packs are offering practical advice for teachers on what to do if they think a student is self-harming

A series of short films and resources about self-harm have been published in a bid to counteract the “negative and frightening messages widely available online”.

The initiative – entitled No Harm Done – is aimed at giving practical support to those affected by self-harm, including young people, parents, teachers and other professionals.

Self-harm describes any way a young person might harm themselves or put themselves at risk in order to cope with difficult thoughts, feelings or experiences. It affects up to one in five young people.

The No Harm Done campaign is being led by YoungMinds, the Charlie Waller Memorial Trust (CWMT) and the Royal College of Psychiatrists.

The accompanying digital packs aim to dispel myths, answer FAQs, provide practical advice and signpost to more help and support.

The pack for teachers and other professionals looks at the warning signs of self-harm, having that first conversation with a young person, what to do when a young person is not ready to talk, and the next steps to take.

It also discusses the key elements of a successful whole-school approach, including implementing a mental health policy, all-staff training, PSHE provision and the importance of staff wellbeing.

Dr Pooky Knightsmith, director of the children, young people and schools programme at CWMT, said: “Staff working with young people will often spot signs of self-harm but feel unsure what to do or say next.

“Using real stories of self-harm and recovery, our videos and accompanying packs enable those crucial first steps and conversations which can be life-changing for the young people concerned.”

One of the teachers who took part in the project said: “The first time I spoke to a student about self- harm, I felt the weight of responsibility to get it right and have all the answers.

“I realised that I needed to enlist the support of other people. And I needed some support, not just in dealing with her, but also dealing with my reaction to self-harm, and how I wanted to put everything right for her and make everything okay. I realised that that wasn’t actually what she needed at that point, she just needed to be listened to.”

Sarah Brennan, chief executive of YoungMinds, added: “No Harm Done is a response to the powerful cry for help from teachers, professionals, young people and parents, who have told us just how difficult dealing with self-harm is. These films are not intended to shock, but rather to show the reality of what is all too often a misunderstood subject.

“Self-harm is surrounded in guilt, shame and mystery for all parties. Young people tell us that they feel isolated and alone. Teachers tell us they see the signs but cannot bring themselves to say anything, and even if they want to, they can’t find the words to reach out to young people.”

For more information, including to watch the films and download the resource packs, visit www.youngminds.org.uk/noharmdone

  • SecEd is running a mental health in schools best practice conference on June 17 in Birmingham. Topics on the day will include advice on self-harm and there will be sessions with the Charlie Waller Memorial Trust and YoungMinds. For details, visit www.schoolsmentalhealth.com


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