Report urges more awareness around self-harm
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.
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