In the news… Number of children who self harm jumps 70 per cent in just two years

The number of children who self-harm has increased by more than 70 per cent in the past two years to record levels, according to new figures.

The Health and Social Care Information Centre said some 6,500 children – just under 6,000 of whom were female – aged 10 to 14 had been treated after deliberately injuring themselves.

That was up by 2,700 on the figures for 2009 to 2012, when the numbers were stable at about 3,800 a year.

Sue Minto, the head of ChildLine, who described self-harming as a “coping mechanism”, said: “About 20 years ago I only came across self-harm in sexual abuse cases. Now self-harm is used by children to try to cope with a whole raft of issues.”

Lucie Russell, of the charity YoungMinds, told The Times, which obtained the figures, that the 24/7 online culture was a major contributory factor.

“This has never happened before. It is the pressures of the modern world and some of these pressures are unprecedented,” she said, saying some children were experiencing “constant pressure”.

“Young people feel it never lets up. Online they create a brand — brand me — which says I have loads of friends and this is how I look. They feel the need for constant reassurance from others and there is no privacy any more.”

A spokeswoman for the Department of Health said: “We want to help young people who experience a mental health problem, which is why we are spending £54m to boost their access to psychological therapies. We have invested £3m in a website called MindEd which supports anyone working with children to spot the signs of mental health problems as early as possible.”


Date: Monday 11th August 2014

Let us know your thoughts about the recent figures. For more information about Harmless’ support services, please visit our website ( or email

Can you help Listen-Up! with their self harm research?

It is really important for us to understand more about self-harm and help in the future development of services for young people who self-harm.

Harmless are working with the Universities of Nottingham and Leicester to increase our understanding of self-harm in young people.

Listen Up are looking to hear from young people who have experienced foster or residential care and young people who have never been in care.

We are looking for young people aged 11-21 who have self-harmed in the last 6 months to take part in our research.

There are two studies you could take part in – one involves being interviewed by about your experiences of self-harm. The other study involves taking part in two computer-based interviews over 6 months. You will privately answer questions about self-harm and other issues.

We can cover your travel expenses – meet you in a place of your choosing and we can offer a £15 high-street voucher (per study) as a thank you for your time.

To take part please contact us at, call 0115 8467319 or visit the website:

Looking forward…

As the school holidays advance, the Harmless and Tomorrow project team focus their attention on identifying and engaging young people of school age who are excluded/not attending educational establishments within the local area.

We are currently targeting services engaged with groups of young people, with a view to sharing details of the self harm and suicide prevention work undertaken within Harmless and the Tomorrow Project.

As a specialist organisation we continue to promote the Tomorrow Project services commissioned by the Nottingham Clinical Commissioning Group

It is important to recognise that encouraging help seeking from young people that are less likely to use services can be difficult. How can we do this?

  • We can work collaboratively with other services to recognise and respond with assurance to the sensitive and often difficult experience of identifying and supporting those at risk.
  • We can also work with family members, professionals and carers to help find a way to support the person impacted by self harm into the service.

By building these supportive relationships and by providing consistency, containment and honesty; we can empower people to approach those at risk with the appropriate support.

For further information  please refer to the websites:




Why? That’s the first question people ask, hoping there’s some sort of check-box answer. For me, moving to secondary school brought pressure to fit in and high expectations. It’s only now that I can look back and say that – at the time when people asked ‘why?’ I had no answer. Then life happened – mum had cancer twice, but the driving force was an inner voice shouting, “you need to do this” and the firm belief that things could never be different.

At first I didn’t feel like self-harm was a problem and shunned anyone who tried to help. Years later I found myself very stuck in a cycle of self-harm and it was terrifying.

I have been seen by CAMHS (Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services) several times. The turning point was when I saw someone at Harmless for two years – the fact that they would just listen rather than trying to put me in a box helped me open up. After a short stay in a young people’s unit, I was offered DBT (Dialectical Behavioural Therapy) on the NHS and this time I was ready to engage. I liked how it was skills based and offered tangible ways of making small manageable changes.

I wouldn’t say I “overcame” the thoughts and feelings I experienced – quite the opposite – I learned to embrace them. For years I’d tried so hard to suppress my feelings thinking that they were bad, but when I actually spent a few moments just sitting with them they became less powerful. I also use humour whenever I can.

Early on support at school was limited. I was told, “people your age just don’t do things like this”. Since I refused to speak to my parents about it, my main support came from my friends – a few were happy to listen while others decided we could no longer be friends.

Later on, particularly after I was discharged from hospital, school became much more supportive. I had a designated teacher to talk to and near the end they agreed I could attend part-time.

A similar thing happened with my parents. The more I was able to talk and explain what helped, the easier people found it to support me. In the early days self-harm drove a rift between me and my parents, but now my mum is brilliant. When she notices me getting low she keeps calm and suggests we do something to distract me.

I think schools should allocate a member of staff who the young person gets on with, and it should be made clear to the young person when this member of staff will be available. There should also be some sort of safe space where the young person can go if they are feeling distressed. This was an issue for me as I often wandered down corridors and even out of school when being in the classroom got too much. Remember that each young person is an individual and that the reasons behind self-harm, and also what helps, may be very different from person to person. They should have a clear policy at what level to involve parents/medical professionals and young people should be given as much choice as possible in the process.

In terms of prevention, I think the best way is to be open about self-harm and have a discussion facilitated by a specialist (e.g. someone from Harmless). Signposting young people early on to places where they can get help makes a big difference.

Teachers – a little understanding goes a long way. Try to take time to listen to the young person without your fears, reactions or judgements interfering. It is not helpful to show shock, disgust or anger when talking to young people about self harm. Be aware that your reactions may influence how much a young person decides to disclose to you.

To young people experiencing difficult thoughts and feelings I would say hang on in there – things can change for you, even if they have been tough for a long while. If you reach out for help and aren’t happy with it, don’t be afraid to ask to see someone different until you feel comfortable. Get creative and try as many different alternatives to self-harm as possible – you never know what might work (going for a trip in the car helps me). And don’t give up – there are sunsets to stare at, cookies to crunch through and life to be laughed through and lived.

Fancy winning some fantastic prizes and at the same time help support our self harm services? Then buy a raffle ticket…

Fancy winning a voucher for The Pudding Pantry? Snow White Panto Tickets? Or theatre tickets for Nottingham Playhouse? And help save lives at the same time? Then why not buy a raffle ticket….

Tickets are £1 each and all the money raised goes directly towards helping us provide a range of services about self harm including support, information, training and consultancy to people who self harm, their friends and families and professionals.

To buy one ticket (£1) – please click here

To buy five tickets (£5) – please click here

To buy ten tickets (£10) – please click here

To buy twenty tickets (£20) – please click here

Alternatively, you can buy tickets by emailing The draw will take place on October 11th 2013 and all winners will be notified within two weeks. Please make sure you include a phone number and email address so that we can contact you if you win.

Thank you for your support and good luck!  

Prizes include:

Vouchers for The Pudding Pantry

Theatre Tickets for Nottingham Playhouse

Wall Clock

Cake Maker

Panto Tickets – Snow White

Walky talkies

And many more to follow….

Terms and conditions of raffle available on request – You must be 16 or over to buy a raffle ticket.