Report urges more awareness around self-harm

Clare Jerrom
23 Oct 2012

There needs to be more awareness about self-harm amongst young people, parents and professionals, according to research by YoungMinds and Cello’s Talking Taboos initiative.

Self-harm among young people is the number one issue that young people themselves are concerned about among their peers above gangs, bullying, drug use and binge drinking.

Two out of three teachers, parents and young people would also feel least comfortable talking to a young person who self-harms if they turned to them, concerned that they would say the wrong thing.

The report, which is a unique insight into self-harm among young people, found that there is not a balanced understanding about self-harm. Yet there is a need and desire for more conversation around the issue.

One in 12 young people are said to self-harm and over the last 10 years, inpatients admissions for young people who have self-harmed has increased by 68 per cent. The true figure around the number of young people self-harming is likely to be far higher, and this is especially the case for at risk and vulnerable groups including looked-after children and young people in the criminal justice system.

There is little open communication about self-harm and ‘considerable scope for stigma and fear’, the report found.

  • Parents associate a young person self-harming with failing as a parent and over a third said they would not seek help.
  • Teachers feel helpless on the issue and 80 per cent said they would like clear practical advice and materials to support young people.
  • Three out of five GPs said they are concerned about what language to use when talking to young people about self-harm.
  • Nearly four out of five young people say they don’t know where to turn for advice about self-harm.

In addition, the range of information available online can vary from supportive to dismissive with some websites inciting self-harm.

YoungMinds and Cello’s Talking Taboos report calls for more knowledge, awareness and understanding around self-harm in a bid to establish a consistency of responses to provide for young people. Online information should be presented in a sensitive way and young people should be involved as experts in the development of online service provision.

The report also calls for teachers to be provided with advice on how to respond to individual cases of self-harm among young people and where to access more information and support while consideration should be given to including education around self-harm in the curriculum.

Parents should also be supported with targeted information to help them understand what self-harm is, why young people self harm and how they can provide and get additional support.

It adds that healthcare professionals need training to provide increased awareness around self-harm and how to identify and support young people. GPs should be able to access CPD modules on self-harm focusing on why young people self-harm and GPs should also be provided with guidance on how assessment tools such as Nice guidelines can support their consultation and referral process.

The full report is available here

For more information on self-harm:-

For young people, view our young people's section of the website.

For parents, view our parents' section of the website.  


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  • Anonymous commenter
    over 4 years ago

    im confussed to the fact why i cut myself i had a hell of a life so far an i still got a long one to live i tryed to talk to people family peers but no one really understands what goes on in my head would u ever know why teens like me cut are selfs?

  • Parents' Helpline
    over 4 years ago

    Thank you for contacting YoungMinds.

    We are very sorry to hear you are feeling so low.

    There are lots of specialist self-harm organisations who can help you, here are links to them.

    There are also lots of organisations who give more general advice to young people, here are links to them.

    I hope this helps.

    Take care, YoungMinds

  • Anonymous commenter
    about 4 years ago

    I am a qualified Clinical Psychologist specialising in working with children, adolescents and young people.

    If you self harm you must STOP from today thinking there is something wrong with you or allow people to make you believe that there is something wrong with your beautiful natural self.

    Self harm is a behaviour that is a product of a context/a situation/an experience. It is a strong emotional response displayed by a physical act often relating to a prolonged experience of stress or emotional responsibility.

    Everyone has a personal reason for acting in this way. Everyone's story is different, however, emotion is universal, it is a deeply human experience. It is what connects all of us. It is no one's fault.

    Greater empathy, patience and understanding needs to be fostered to reduce the blaming culture associated with intense expression of emotion.

    There needs to be a dramatic change to the way emotion, self harm and mental health is understood in this society.

  • Anonymous commenter
    about 3 years ago

    I'm 26 have a GOOD life as of now 3 kids and still after 10 years of self harm cut myself.. And no one can understand why.. I don't do it to hurt others it's that the pain feels good.. do people out there understand this or am I alone?

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