In the News: Prison report highlights a rise of self harm incidents in 2014

The number of inmates who self harmed at a Northumberland prison rose dramatically last year, a new study has revealed.

The damning findings are highlighted in the recently-published annual report of the Independent Monitoring Board at HMP Northumberland for 2014.

The number of self harm incidents at the Acklington-based Category C unit was 50 per cent higher than in 2013, the document states.

While the board acknowledges that the number of incidents is relatively low compared to similar prisons, it has demanded to know what steps will be taken in 2015 to halt the rise.

On top of this, the number of incidents involving damage to prison property each month in 2014 was three times higher than in 2013, despite offenders having to meet the cost of the damage.

The board also received complaints from vulnerable prisoners claiming intimidation and bullying from other inmates and states that there were examples of physical violence.

However, the board has welcomed the reduction in levels of substance abuse, saying the number of prisoners failing random drug tests has almost halved in comparison to 2013.


To read the full article, please click the following link:

Meet the Team: Sarah

Hi, my name is Sarah and I am a Trainer for Harmless.

My role is to connect with as many people as possible and raise awareness and knowledge around the areas of self-harm and suicide. I will also be contributing towards the development of the training programme. Training is given in order to meet people’s needs but, just as importantly to inspire prevention.

I am a new member of Harmless and am very excited to be working for such a remarkable organisation. Harmless has truly overwhelmed me by the amount it has achieved through such a small yet astounding group of people. Every member gives their all to provide a voice to those that are unheard and support those who feel alone.

My background is mainly in education, both primary and secondary. I have been a teacher and also worked as a part of a pastoral team in schools. As a result this has brought me into close contact with many of the trials and tribulations young adolescents experience. I also have personal experience of self-harm and as a result believe passionately in the value and importance of organisations such as Harmless. I believe Harmless provides support and hope to many, something which was not available to me when I was young.

By working with Harmless I am hoping to reach out to the nation, and even beyond, to enlighten minds and provide hope.

To book any of our courses take a look at our website. Places are limited, so please book early to avoid disappointment. Upcoming courses include:

MHFA 26th – 27th August: Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) is an educational course which teaches people how to identify, understand and help a person who may be developing a mental health issue.

ASIST 7th – 8th September: Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training (ASIST) is for everyone 16 or older—regardless of prior experience—who wants to be able to provide suicide first aid.

Self Harm: What should school staff be aware of?

Self harm is an increasing problem among children and young people and schools are on the front-line. Child and educational psychologist Dr Joanna Mitchell offers some advice on spotting the signs and how to respond.

Self harm is a concerning reality for teachers, parents and professionals working with children and young people today.

Recent statistics conclude that rates have increased in the UK and are now among the highest in Europe. According to the National Institute for Care and Excellence, the risk of suicide has also increased (NICE 2013).

Studies conclude that between 10 and 12 per cent of young people self harm, but the true incidence is largely unknown as many young people do not present for help.

A recent poll commissioned by ChildLine, YouthNet, SelfHarmUK and YoungMinds revealed that of the 2,000 children and young people surveyed, over half of the 11 to 14-year-olds reported having self harmed, or knowing someone who had. Equally, eight out of ten 18 to 21-year-olds say they have self harmed or know someone who has (reported by NSPCC on Self Harm Awareness day – March 1, 2015).

The predominant reason young people give for not reporting their self harm is the concern that they will not be listened to or that they will be misunderstood.

Yet at the same time self harm is the one issue that all groups (young people, parents and professionals) feel least comfortable approaching. Parents tend to associate young people self harming with failing as a parent, and teachers feels helpless and unsure about what to say. Other research has found that three in five GPs do not know what language to use when talking about self harm with young people.

Children and young people’s general mental health continues to be a concern at both political, social and community levels. Below are some key principles for school staff in how to understand and mange this complex psychological and social phenomenon.

To read the full news article, follow this link:

Upcoming Self Harm, Suicide and Mental Health Training here at Harmless

Here at Harmless we are really excited that we will be delivering MHFA (Mental Health First Aid) and ASIST (Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training) here in August and September respectively. (Further dates will be announced shortly)

To give you some idea about why these courses would be beneficial to you, I thought I would share some information over a blog, about when we will deliver the 2 day workshops, what the courses cover and how they will be beneficial not only to you, but those in distress due to mental ill health and those with thoughts of suicide.

We will be delivering MHFA on Wednesday 26th and Thursday 27th August 2015 9:00am – 5:00pm in Nottingham


To coincide with World Suicide Awareness Day (10th September) Harmless will be delivering a 2 day ASIST Workshop in Nottingham on Monday 7th and Tuesday 8th September 2015 9:00am – 5:00pm

So, MHFA is an educational course which teaches people how to identify, understand and help a person who may be developing a mental health issue. In the same way as we learn physical first aid, Mental Health First Aid teaches you how to recognise those crucial warning signs of mental ill health. By completing this course it will develop your skills, abilities and confidence in being able to support individuals with a range of mental health conditions.

The course is split into 4 manageable chunks. These are;

  • What is mental health
  • Suicide
  • Anxiety and depression
  • Psychosis

In each section you will learn how to;

  • Spot the early signs of a mental health problem
  • Feel confident helping someone experiencing a mental health problem
  • Provide help on a first aid basis
  • Help prevent someone hurting themselves or others
  • Help stop a mental illness from getting worse
  • Help someone recover faster
  • Guide someone towards the right support
  • Reduce the stigma of mental health problems

How will I learn?

The MHFA course usually takes place over 2 full days. However the delivery of this course is very flexible and may be delivered over a number of sessions.

The sessions will be a mix of presentations, group discussions and group work activities. Your instructors will provide a very safe learning environment and are trained to support you throughout the whole course. If you don’t feel comfortable joining in certain bits, then don’t, we won’t make you do something you aren’t comfortable with.

Due to some of the sensitive subjects of our courses, including suicide, we limit numbers to 16 people. We want everyone to feel safe and our instructors can help if people find some bits particularly difficult.

You’ll receive and MHFA Standard manual that you can take away with you at the end of the course and also an attendance certificate from MHFA England to say you are now a Mental Health First Aider.

With regards to ASIST, why is it important? Developed in 1983 and regularly updated to reflect improvements in knowledge and practice, ASIST is the world’s leading suicide intervention workshop. During the two-day interactive session, participants learn to intervene and help prevent the immediate risk of suicide. Over 1,000,000 people have taken the workshop, and studies have proven that the ASIST method helps reduce suicidal feelings for those at risk.

Workshop features:

  • Presentations and guidance from two LivingWorks registered trainers
  • A scientifically proven intervention model
  • Powerful audiovisual learning aids
  • Group discussions
  • Skills practice and development
  • A balance of challenge and safety

ASIST has saved and changed hundreds of thousands of lives around the world.

What does ASIST cover?

There are 5 key stages of ASIST;

Preparing – Sets the tone, norms and expectations of the learning experience.

Connecting – Sensitizes participants to their own attitudes towards suicide. Creates an understanding of the impact that attitudes can have on the intervention process.

Understanding – Overviews the intervention needs of a person at risk. It focuses on providing participants with the knowledge and skills to recognize risk and develop safe plans to reduce the risk of suicide.

Assisting – Presents a model for effective suicide intervention. Participants develop their skills through observation and supervised simulation experiences in large and small groups.

Networking – Generates information about resources in the local community. Promotes a commitment by participants to transform local resources into helping networks.

These courses are both 2 day workshops and attendance to both days is compulsory.

Both ASIST and MHFA are simply for anyone! Whether you are a member of a community or work in a professional manner, we mean it when we say ASIST and MHFA is for anyone. All we ask is that you are aged over 16 due to the sensitive nature of the topics being discussed.

We are pleased to be able to offer all resources, refreshments and lunch on both days of the training.

If you would like any further details of either of these workshops please contact either or or telephone 0115 934 8445 and we will be happy to answer any questions you may have.

Training will take place at;

Training Location:

7 Mansfield Road,
NG1 3FB.

In the News: Self-harming, why boys need classes to help them cope with their emotions

Almost 5,000 boys and teenagers were admitted to A&E over the last year with self-inflicted injuries last year, according to official figures.

This is a rise of 15 per cent from the year before, though experts suggest the reported numbers may be only the tip of the iceberg.

“Young women and girls may talk about this more, which is the same thing we see in other health and mental health concerns,” said Dr Stephen Lewis, an expert in non-suicidal self-injury at the University of Guelph, in Canada.

“With men there’s often a greater sense of shame; the feeling that you shouldn’t be doing these things and you should be stronger.”

Dr Lewis understands these feelings better than most: he began self-harming as a teenager and continued until his time as a university undergraduate, an experience which he relayed in a recent TED Talk.

While he grew up in a “loving, supportive family”, in secondary school he was “relentlessly” bullied.

“I can recall the pain in my arms from being punched so hard,” Dr Lewis said. “I can also recall what they said to me on a daily basis: ‘You should just kill yourself’.

“I yearned for relief; just a temporary break from the pain that I felt inside. And so, out of desperation…I cut myself. For me, self-injury provided needed relief.

“It communicated the great hatred I felt towards myself.”

Through family support and therapy, Dr Lewis was able to end this self-harm, but he now believes more should be done in schools to help young people – and in particular young men – cope with negative emotions and stress.

“There’s virtually nothing out there about preventing people self-harming,” he said. “Ideally we would be working with children and adolescents as they go through school, teaching them about how we can cope with and express different emotions.

“If they feel they shouldn’t be expressing certain things, they will learn that they shouldn’t talk about how they feel. And over time, even though the majority won’t go on to self-harm, some will.”

He suggested that young people were under more stress than in previous generations, and that heightened stress is often associated with self-harm.

In his previous research, Dr Lewis has focussed on how the internet can be used to support people who are or are at risk of self-harming.


To read the news article, please follow this link:

A Personal Account of Struggles with Mental Health Issues

It’s been a long time since I wrote a blog article and am honoured to write one for Harmless – my only problem is keeping it concise.

My struggles with mental health issues and self-harm began when I was 15, and although I had various support from medical professionals over the years, it wasn’t until I was 28 and my marriage suddenly ended that I hit rock bottom.  Although it was an awful time, it was also a blessing in disguise as the experience allowed me to get the help I needed to start to really address my underlying mental health issues which were behind my self-harm.

At my lowest point I had a four day stay in Maytree, a charity in London which is a sanctuary for the suicidal.  I was also lucky enough to receive two years of person-centred counselling along with group support (and not forgetting the support of some extremely good friends) from a charity similar to Harmless in my area which sadly no longer exists.  I then had a year of psychodynamic therapy from the NHS which allowed me to really explore my childhood issues, and the support of an amazing CPN.  Although I am now discharged from the mental health services, I still have access to her if I need the support.

It was a very long and difficult road towards recovery, and accessing help was a battle.  I enjoy sharing my experiences with others in the hope that it will help.  I have delivered a lot of self-harm awareness and personality disorder training, and this has also helped me immensely, and is something I hope to get back into doing.  Five years after being at my lowest point I have a fantastic boyfriend, and the most amazing little one year old boy who brings me so much happiness.  Although I still have my struggles, and I can’t say that I will never self-harm again as I don’t know what the future holds, getting the help I needed turned my life around, and I feel so lucky to be here.


If you would also like to contribute to our blog in any way, please get in touch with us at to speak to a member of our team.

Harmless Self Harm Drop-in today

Harmless provide two drop in sessions per month, one for adults and a separate one for young people.

Our next drop in session is for young persons and will be held today:

Wednesday  8th July  at 15.30 –  16.30 for young persons aged up to 21 years.

Our trained therapist will be on hand to offer information or advice about any concerns you may have about self harm.

If you have any concerns about someone such as a family member, friend or a colleague, then please feel free to join us, you will be assured of a friendly welcome.

All drop in sessions will take place at the Nottingham Community and Voluntary Service Building, & Mansfield Road, Nottingham, NG1 3FB (Opposite House of Fraser)

If you have trouble finding us please call on 0115 9348445, or email us at