Topic Champions – Self-Harm


Self-harm is such a broad term but it can be defined as hurting yourself on purpose, whether that is through cutting, burning, over or under eating, or hair pulling etc.  It is nearly impossible to say how many young people actually self-harm. This is because very few young people tell anyone what’s going on, so it’s incredibly difficult to keep records or have an accurate idea of the scale. However, it is believed to affect around 1 in 5 young people (Youngminds, 2021). It is also reported that 25% of 14-year-olds (Beheadstrong, 2011) and 10% of 15 to 16-year-olds have self-harmed in the past, yet the actual number could be much higher.


The reason young people self-harm can often be complicated and will be different for every child or young person. Some children may not know the reason why they self-harm. For many young people, self-harm can feel like a way to realise tension and emotional feeling.


Some people with self-harm feel that hurting themselves is the only way to get rid of their fears, concerns and anxieties, and that the physical pain of hurting themselves can feel like a distraction from the emotional pain they are struggling with (NSPCC, 2021).


At New Heights, students can be on placement for as short as 12 weeks so we often help support students with mental health and wellbeing issues including self-harm. As soon as a student starts here at New Heights, they will complete an initial assessment that can identify any possible social, emotional and mental health issues.  We also monitor all students on a day-by-day basis to identify any potential signs of mental health and wellbeing issues, including self-harm. Due to this, we can make several referrals for support for our students each term. We also have relationships with numerous organisations including CAMHS and YPAS and the ADHD Foundation, who frequently visit and can have counselling sessions on-site with students in a place where they feel safe and comfortable.


A number of our staff are also first aid trained in mental health and are available to listen and provide guidance, support and reassurance to our young people at any stage throughout the school day this includes, Mr Dalton, Mrs Kenny and Miss Gumbley. All other members of staff including myself are available for students to talk to. We are all emotionally available adults.