Revisiting important themes: Understanding trauma

In general, trauma can be defined as a psychological, emotional response to an event or an experience that is deeply distressing or disturbing. … Everyone processes a traumatic event differently because we all face them through the lens of prior experiences in our lives.

There are three main types of trauma are acute, chronic, or complex.

Acute trauma results from a single incident.

Chronic trauma is repeated and prolonged such as domestic violence or abuse.

Complex trauma is exposure to varied and multiple traumatic events, often of an invasive, interpersonal nature.

Symptoms of psychological trauma:

Shock, denial, or disbelief.

Confusion, difficulty concentrating.

Anger, irritability, mood swings.

Anxiety and fear.

Guilt, shame, self-blame.

Withdrawing from others.

Feeling sad or hopeless.

Feeling disconnected or numb.

Helping with trauma:

Find out as much as you can about distress, so you can understand something about what to expect.

Allow the person to talk about what happened, even if they become upset.

Don’t insist they need professional help – not everyone who experiences a traumatic event needs therapy.

Celebrating the needs and strengths of women in landmark conference and photographic project.

In 2019 new statistics about suicide were released. The rates of suicide for young women are growing at one of the fastest rates.

As such Harmless have been focusing their work around the above and the unmet needs of women.

Join us as we host a landmark event in the first National Conference on Female Suicide on the 28th February 2020

This year our photographic project is focusing upon the ‘Strength of Women and Womanhood” to raise awareness of female suicide and give attention to the needs and vulnerabilities of women.

Together let’s celebrate humanity and the women in all walks of life.

Join us at their landmark conference in February Book here. The line of speakers is amazing!

And keep your eyes out for details of the photographic exhibition and celebration evening on the 8th of March (currently looking for an event sponsor!).

#women #womenempowerment #womenofstrength #feminism #strength #mentalhealthawareness #empowerment #wellness #wellbeing #recoveryispossible #overcoming #strive #suicideprevention

Look after your team and they’ll look after you, right?

Workplace well-being continues to rise up the public and political agenda, and so it should!

If you have any doubts about why this is so important as an individual organisation and company level then there is work to be done. A staff team, a workforce, is made up of individual humans. Those individuals exist as a human level went outside and inside of the workplace. They have families and friends and partners and children. 

They experience the highs and lows of every day life – don’t we all? And so it is important that if we are to respond as an efficient system i.e. the workplace, it is imperative that we do what we can to look after the humans that work for us.

Having a think about how we can each do something better for workplace well-being and for the well-being of our teams can start very small. It can exist on an individual level where we take the time to know and check in on our colleagues. If we know them then it is likely that we will know if things are not right for them. If we do not know them then this becomes more difficult.

They can be moved to workplace will be in though, and it is important that team leaders and managers and senior leadership teams have the skills that they need to look after and look out for the teams that they employ. Sometimes this might need to be a look at the way in which we operate, undertaking an audit of how the way that we function leaves our staff feeling. Sometimes it might be reviewing a policy and seeing how it upholds staff well-being and the way that we operate in the workplace. Sometimes it might be engaging with training to our workforce or management teams to ensure that they have the skills and awareness to know how to look after their own well-being as well as that of their colleagues around them.

However it is that you and your colleagues are looking to make well-being higher up the priority list in 2020, we would love to be a part of this practice and journey.

Over the coming weeks we will be sharing some of our experiences and expertise in providing healthy spaces for both the clients that we help, our stakeholder partners and ultimately, our workforce. We hope that in giving you these case examples it will help you to reflect on your own practice as an individual or maybe as an organisation.

If you would like to talk to us more about what we can offer in terms of support for your own strategies and organisation then please drop us a line at or call 01158800280 – we offer everything from the outsourcing of psychological support through to training for your workforce.

More than that however what we want to be is to be someone that encourages you that you can do this better, and that in doing so not only will your workplace benefit at a human level the overall system of your organisation will improve and for everybody that becomes positive.

If you look after your people, your people will look after you and for everybody that provides a much more functional and productive system and one that our teams want to remain in 

CEO’s words of honesty picked up by #YesSheCan movement

Earlier this week our CEO wrote candidly about her battle with anorexia.

After a trending in #mentalhealth on LinkedIn the blog brought the attention of talent recruiters for the #YesSheCan movement.

#YesSheCan is a forward-thinking, progressive movement aiming to readdress the gender balance by giving women the platform to chase the job and career of their dreams, alongside supporting businesses to find amazing talent within our community.

Have a look here

Stay humble, folks! What it takes to work for Harmless

People often ask us what it is that we are looking for within our staff team. Obviously we recruit for a high calibre of individuals who demonstrate a range of high skills and qualifications in the particular field. But is that all that interests us at Harmless?

The answer is quite simply, no!

Harmless isn’t your average workplace. It was established by people who have lived experience of mental distress and whilst we are very clearly not a peer support organisation but we are is an organisation that looks for human qualities in the staff team that we employ.

After years and years of recruiting processes it is easy to see the candidates that stand out from the rest and this is not because they tell us how proficient they will be at their roles or that they have tens of years of clinical experience working with a specific group of people.

No, it is in how they reveal their personalities to us when we meet them. It is in the appropriateness of the stories they tell us and it is in the human qualities that we are looking for.

You cannot do work in this area unless you have compassion and compassion in bucketloads. There is more to it than that because our team must be strong, they must be innovative, and above all else they must be humble.

We do not recruit individuals. We recruit team members and so each person we meet is configured into how the team already exists and what the team needs to be next.

If we do not have teams we do not have anything – stay humble, folks!

We get to work with some beautiful humans… are you one of them?

Harmless is a service that’s just a little bit different.

We do awesome work. We’re not perfect. But we work super hard to meet the needs of our clients with thriving compassion and it’s a privilege.

Our work is not possible without the support of our stakeholders, our courageous clients, our compassionate staff and also the support of those who champion our work.

It’s time that we tell you about our champions now, too – the very special people that support us, give us courage, remind us we are doing ok and help us raise the profile and funds for our work.

Here’s someone for you to meet.

Pam is our friend and colleague. She always leaves us with a smile, makes us feel like we are a little bit special, always hopeful, and she always shares our work.

These things are more valuable than we can find words for.

Pam, you are our champion and we love you.

Please read more about her work and career here

Who is Harmless, what do we do?

Harmless is our parent company and we are a Community Interest Company. This means we operate very much like a charity but with a lot of dedication to a sustainable business model.

Harmless provides our self harm pathway. This is direct access work to people of all ages and their carers that do (or are at risk of) self harm.

We see about 70/30 female:male split in this particular service and provide clinical support workers and therapists that work with people either independently or together to ensure the best possible outcomes.

Our recovery rates in this aspect of our work are great and our re referral rates are 0.04%, so when people leave they don’t need to come back.

There’s hope.

People get better.

Wanna get in touch, drop us an Email

Colin Menz is the team leader for this pathway and we operate in Nottinghamshire and Leicestershire. 

My reflections on last nights ball, by Caroline

Last night Darren and myself attended the Nottingham chartered accountant student society ball. This was a large scale dinner event, black-tie, that hosted approximately 500 attendees.

We had the privilege of being invited as one of the supported charities for the committee to raise money for.

Little did I know when I accepted the dinner and speaker invite that I would be addressing such a large audience.

For those who know me I often end up, as CEO of Harmless, in some rather random and obscure situations.

It has become a little bit of a joke because I have come to understand that my role is so varied that we never really know what is coming next. However, I do experience high rates of anxiety in the attendance of such events because in my words I hold the power to either engage or disengage an audience and that responsibility terrifies me.

I am often asked what suicide prevention looks like.

Sometimes it looks like my frontline staff providing the dedicated support to people in distress to ensure that they are safe and well.

Sometimes it looks like me in a ballgown attending a black-tie dinner, addressing an audience of 500 people from the corporate world who would not be expecting to be listening to someone talk about suicide and wellness and mental health in the workplace.

Whilst it was an absolute privilege to attend such a wonderful dinner it is also part of the work and for me, when I stand in front of an audience of that size, the enormity of the responsibility I have really dawns on me – but I do it anyway!

Suicide prevention, as I said last night in my speech, starts with a conversation. It starts with daring to ask your colleague how they are really doing. It starts with reaching out for help when you feel then maybe none.

It starts when you listen to a random woman standing at the front of a large room, shaking with anxiety, telling you to reach out.

Thank you to all of those who took the time to come and thank us for our attendance and for telling me how my words had impacted you on your own personal journeys. I use the word privilege a lot, but privilege is exactly what it is to have others share with you there courageous and vulnerable stories of distress, recovery and hope. I thank you for sharing those stories with me and I will always be humbled by people’s willingness to do so.

I hope that this is yet another endeavour that will reach people who would otherwise not have been reached and start another conversation about workplace well-being that Harmless can be a part of in 2020.

Wanna hear something awesome about our conference?

We are being joined by our International colleague Katrina Jaworski from the University if Southern Australia at our forthcoming women’s conference in Female Suicide.

Joining us to talk about the use of language and invalidation she will be teaming up with our CEO Caroline Harroe to run an exciting workshop on these themes.

Katrina says:

I’m a social philosopher. My research moves between cultural studies, continental philosophy, gender studies and sociology. I’m deeply passionate about researching the agency of suicide, with a focus on the body, gender, sexuality and/or ethics. My research extends to the philosophy of death and dying bodies, as well as Rwandan genocide, violent extremism, older men and urban private sheds, cultural politics of thinking, women in higher education, and pop-up economies. When not in my current position as an Associate Head of School: Research, I am a Senior Lecturer in Cultural Studies. I love teaching cultural studies because I see the discipline as applied philosophy.

This is a unique opportunity to join these renowned speakers in a feminist focused discussion about language and its meaning for women in the mental health system.

To book a place at the conference, click here

Read more of Katrina’s work here