I would like to introduce James Park to you…

He is writing a book which look at the factors causing young people to self harm, the unhelpful ways in which services sometimes respond to their distress, and the routes people find back to feeling on top of things. 

He has written books before, ran for 20 years an organisation that helped schools promote young people’s mental health and emotional well-being, and is a qualified (but currently non-practising) psychotherapist.

He is happy to talk by phone, over skype, face-to-face… or in any other way that works for you. He will treat whatever you tell him as confidential and, if he does use elements of your story in the book, will ensure you cannot be identified.

You can get in touch with James by email (jamesrobertpark@icloud.com), by phone (0771 201 3172) or via Adrienne Grove at Harmless on 01158348445 or email adrienne@harmless.org.uk 

Please take a little time to read his email below and help him to get the correct messages across. If you have any questions please give me or James a call. This is our chance to be heard..

Adults not listening: will you tell me your story?

Ask a young person who sometimes self-harms, or thinks of killing themselves, what it is they most crave from the adults around them, and the chances are they’ll say it’s the opportunity to be really listened to. They may add that really listening is something their parents, teachers and others seem to find it really, really hard to do.

All too often, what adults call listening is actually telling: getting in first with a response to what they think a young person is wanting to say: trying to reassure them that they are loved, have the potential to do well in school, will get better in time. They challenge rather than absorb, try to map a shortcut to health rather than being attentive to the thoughts struggling to be expressed.

The effect on the young person is all too often to plunge them back into the despair they thought they were starting to claw their way out of. Asking to be listened to can be an act of considerable courage. It’s about starting to create a small space in which you can feel in control of your own life, evolving a language to express the strange feelings that toss you around: listening to your true self instead of the angry, reproachful voices in your head. Being talked back to just confirms what you feared all along: that you are powerless and undeserving.

In looking for an explanation of why so many young people today are experiencing such high levels of emotional distress, I suspect the answer is to be found in the fact that adults are finding it harder to listen. There are too many anxieties knocking around in their heads: particularly about whether there’s going to be work available for their child, a decent income to be earned: all of which is seen to be dependent on whether a child will get those grades they are going to need. And that’s before a child has started cutting themselves or opening top-floor windows with the thought that they might jump into oblivion.

Another way adults deal with their anxieties is handing the responsibility for listening to their child on to someone else. But while a therapist or counsellor may provide welcome respite, may foster the courage to go back and ask again… and again … for the right to be heard, they cannot replace having a parent who listens quietly … over many hours and days … to what it is their child is trying to make sense of.

And when an adult thinks they have been listening, and has done the caring thing by finding a professional to help, the next time they hear the child telling them they have not been heard, they may inadvertently, in a few unfortunate seconds, express exasperation or frustration, sparking a further downward spiral as the young person turns away, towards some other strategy for managing their despair.

I am writing a book about how we, as a society, can break these cycles of failed communication. To do that I want to hear your stories: whether of asking to be listened to from people who could not respond, or of finding a listener who helped you to health; of trying to listen but failing, or of finding a way to do so. Please get in touch via email (jamesrobertpark@icloud.com) or phone (0771 201 3172). I look forward to hearing from you.

All the best,

James

Harmless’ first national self harm conference, From Harm to Hope, a great success

Yesterday, Harmless were proud to launch our first National Self harm conference, From Harm to Hope.

Harmless were keen to help establish Nottingham and The East Midlands as a centre of excellence for self harm. The conference delivered a message of hope and focused on five key themes: collaborative partnership, service user representation, effective practice, driving change and overcoming stigma and discrimination.

From all of us here at Harmless, we would like to thank all our amazing speakers for their thought-provoking and inspiring presentations. Throughout the morning we heard inspirational presentations from Dr Ellen Townsend, Dr Christabel Owens, Karen Lascelles, Fiona Brand, Charlotte Ball, Dr James Roe, Harriet Ball and our C.E.O Caroline Harroe.  We would also like to say a special thank you to our chair on the day, Keith Waters, who ensured that the proceedings went without a hitch, while providing us with his valuable knowledge and experience in the process.

We would also like to thank all of those who presented workshops in the afternoon of the conference. These include Dr Ellen Townsend, Dr Ruth Wadman, Anne Garland, Keith Waters, Jenny Ness, Marie Armstrong, Pam Burrows, Hayley Green, and our very own Trainers, Sophie Allen & Sarah Kessling.

The whole team here at Harmless are very proud of what we have achieved and would like to thank all of the delegates for joining us and being part of the day. The conference enabled us to share knowledge and research in the field of Self Harm meaning that we can all be in a better position to help those who need it in the most effective way possible, echoing the message “Change will happen if we believe it can”.

We have already started planning for next year’s self harm conference, which will be on Wednesday 1st March 2017, as we look to build on the success of yesterday.

 

Send a Card, Save a Life

Harmless’ Christmas Cards are now on sale!

Help support vital self harm and suicide prevention services by sending a festive card this holiday season!

Premium quality cards come in packs of 8 with 2 designs and self seal envelopes

 

 All the money raised will go directly towards supporting the ongoing work of Harmless and The Tomorrow Project and saving lives.

Buy yours in our online store: www.harmless.org.uk/store/Christmas-cards 

Harmless Conference: From Harm to Hope. Tuesday 1st March 2016. Now inviting submissions for contributors

Launching our first national conference examining effective service provision and practice for people that self harm: current thinking and implications for practice.

We are now inviting submissions for session proposals to be considered for inclusion in the afternoon workshop conference programme, and also for speakers during the conference, please see below for details.
The final deadline for submissions is 17:00 on Monday 26th October.

Tuesday 1st March 2016
Nottingham Conference Centre

Who we are:

Harmless is a user led service which provides support, information, training and consultancy to people who self harm, their friends, families and professionals. We are committed to saving lives and giving a voice to those unheard. Harmless launched in 2007 and was set up by people who understand self harm. At the heart of our service is a real sense of hope, we know with the right support, and help life can get better. Find out more about Harmless by looking on our website www.harmless.org.uk

Self harm is everyone’s business:

Over 1 in 10 people are affected by self harm. Self harm does not discriminate on the basis of gender, race, age, religion, disability or sexual orientation. Popular culture would have you believe that it is predominantly young girls who self harm; findings suggest that in fact for the age range of mid 30′s in men represent the majority of people attending Accident and Emergency for the treatment of self harm. Given this, we will only save more lives if all parts of society work together.

We are now inviting submissions for both session proposals to be considered for inclusion in the afternoon workshop conference programme, and for speakers during the conference.
The final deadline for submissions is 17:00 on Monday 26th October.
All workshops will be an hour in length.

If you are interested in submitting a proposal for our conference, please register your interest at info@harmless.org.uk, or by calling us on 0115 934 8445.

Event details:

The theme of this year’s conference is empowering communities through collaboration; recognising that reducing the number of individuals who self harm requires contributions from across society and includes education, prevention, intervention and postvention work. This event will bring together private, public, voluntary and community sector organisations, individuals with lived experience of self harm, professionals and practitioners in self harm prevention.

Guidance for session proposals:

The conference is themed around five areas; Collaborative partnership, service user representation, effective practice, driving change & overcoming stigma and discrimination. Proposals put forward must relate to at least one of these areas. Subjects for each area are noted but proposals do not need to be limited to these subjects. Sessions can include presentations of services, projects or activities, presentations of academic research or hosted discussions.

Additional Information:

All proposals received will be reviewed by a panel of Harmless members which will agree on the final programme of sessions. As there are only a limited number of slots available, we regret that it may not be possible to accommodate all proposals received.

Session proposals will be assessed against the following criteria
Proposals must:

  • Demonstrate some evidence-base and where appropriate, show that services, models of working or projects have undergone an evaluation.
  • Demonstrate good practice,
  • Set out ways in which other individuals or organisations can potentially adapt or learn from your work or set out how learning from your work can benefit others and their service users,
  • Demonstrate collaborative working.

Sessions should have at least 15 minutes for questions and discussion and be interactive wherever possible.

Where can I find more information?

For more information about our ‘From Harm to Hope’ Conference or to book tickets, please contact Harmless using the following details:

Visit our online shop here

Emailinfo@harmless.org.uk

Telephone: 0115 934 8445

Introduction to Self Harm and Working with Self Harm: General Training – 2nd November 2015

Our next Introduction to Self Harm and Working with Self Harm: General Training day will be held on Tuesday 2nd November 2015.

This training day will provide an opportunity for individuals from a broad range of professional arenas to attend and get a detailed overview of self harm and working with self harm. Although there is some opportunity for delegates to explore the impact upon them in their own professional arenas, the training is non-specific to a particular field.

The training day will cover:

  • What self harm is, and who it effects
  • What causes someone to self harm and some of the myths around self harm
  • What can be done to support and help people who self harm
  • Managing the impact of self harm as an individual and a workplace
  • Useful interventions for working with people who self harm and promoting empowerment
  • Managing and assessing risk

The training is CPD certified and is delivered over the course of a day and will use a range of delivery methods. Price includes a resource/training pack for all participants.

To book your place, click here, or email training@harmless.org.uk

Date: Tuesday 2nd November 2015

Venue:  Nottingham Community and Voluntary Service, 7 Mansfield Road, Nottingham NG1 3FB

Time: 9.30am – 4.30pm

Self harm – A personal experience

When I think about self-harm now, there’s a detachment.

In a way I can see and almost feel my younger self in the context of acute distress, unable to express my emotions and feeling like there was no outlet for the internal torment. I can place myself in my former mind and body, and recall when I found self-harm – as a way out of the heightened fear and anxiety, an effective mechanism to cope, a short term relief to the feelings I couldn’t deal with, or sometimes a way to remind myself I was alive when I felt nothing at all.

I can place myself back in that person, know it, feel it and realise the familiarity – and yet at the same time it feels so distant, far removed, a moment, memory and time gone by.

I welcome that I can reflect and know that I am not in that place anymore, and I even value the negative nostalgia – for I know I made it through, and I know I have grown stronger, more resilient and more equipped with a toolbox of healthy coping mechanisms through addressing my self-harm.

I began self-harming intermittently aged 10, at age 12 this progressed to a daily ritualistic action, and up to 17 I was regularly injuring myself as a way to externally manifest the pain, hopelessness and confusion I was feeling inside. At the time I was also in the depths of anorexia, completely consumed, and at times paralysed, with OCD – the combination of my conditions had a toxic interplay which made it difficult to unpick the mesh of thoughts and behaviours to find remedy, support and relief.

Through many interventions and treatment, focus was often, if not always, placed on treatment of one condition or behaviour – tackle the eating disorder and leave everything else, or stop the self-harm before addressing the OCD. This simple, one dimensional approach may have created short-term positives, but ultimately resulted in bigger set-backs, and long-term wasn’t conducive to my overall recovery. If my self-harming reduced, my anorexia ignited with full force and if my eating was improving, I felt an intense need to punish myself with self-harm and infinite OCD compulsions.

It wasn’t until I accessed and engaged with treatment that took a comprehensive and holistic approach, looking at me as a person – supporting and treating my illnesses and distress as a whole, that I was able to start making small steps in all areas towards getting better. This is the point: We as people are just that – whole, real, living, breathing humans with complex needs – and so we need compassionate, holistic treatment and support to reflect this reality.

If focus is only ever placed on one snapshot of our struggle, it will only ever place a band-aid on a small piece of a jigsaw that can never become complete – there will likely always be a gap, a void, a missing part.

Treat us, support us, see us – as a whole – so that we can become whole again.

Harmless’ Range of Resources Around Self Harm are Available to Purchase on Our Online Store

Harmless offer a range of helpful and supportive resources for people who self harm, their families, friends, carers and professionals. These resources can be used to raise awareness, provide insight, promote recovery and help people move forward with their lives. All of the money we raise through the sales of our resources goes directly towards helping us continue delivering our vital services.

Out of Harm’s Way: Harmless DVD

Out of Harm’s Way is a DVD is a resource that can be used by people that self harm, to promote recovery and self belief. It can also be used by professionals or carers to enhance understanding, empathy and strategies that are helpful when supporting people that self harm.

Through the eyes of those with first hand experience, we will examine the nature of self harm, distress, and recovery.

“This DVD has helped me so much. I have struggled to understand my son’s self harm but even this short trailer has given me more empathy and willingness to understand. For the first time – something hopeful about self harm!”

In the DVD, we speak to Jenny, Mark, Fiona and Satveer who have personal experience of self harm and whose courage in speaking out has enabled them to discuss their experiences on film.

In Our Own Word’s Book

In Our Own Words’ aims to promote insight and understanding of self harm. The book contains words and images that have been generated by people whose lives have been touched by self harm; through personal experiences, or by knowing and working with those who have struggled.

In spring 2009 Harmless recruited a team who formed the editorial group for this project. These people had their own stories relating to self harm and were brought together to shape the journey of this book. This was an exercise to create a book that would be useful and inspiring, challenging stigmas and stereotypes. It also provided an opportunity for those who have had their own personal battles to be involved in a project that could change perceptions and reach out to others.

Harmless Workbook

Harmless have developed this workbook in collaboration with service users, therapists and the Institute of Mental Health to provide a tool that can be used to promote recovery and self reflection amongst people that self harm. The workbook provides a series of activities to work through to help the individual to start to reflect upon their ways of coping, and to begin to manage these differently.

The workbook is not a substitute for counselling or therapy, but it is designed to help naturally promote some of the insight that can be helpful to help people move forwards in their life. The belief behind the book is that by promoting awareness, insight and resilience amongst people that self harm, they can start to cope differently, or feel better.

Self Harm Policy Guidance

The purpose of a policy on self harm should be to uphold best practice in relation to self harm, and define clearly the interventions and steps that should be taken to support a young person that is self harm. The policy should inform the staff of what is expected of them, and be a document that helps staff to contain and respond to a situation fairly and responsibly with the best interests of the young person, in mind.

If you would like more information, or to buy any of our products, you can do so by visiting our online shop: http://www.harmless.org.uk/store/

Alternatively you can contact a member of the team by calling us on 0115 934 8445 or emailing info@harmless.org.uk.

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:

 http://www.northumberlandgazette.co.uk/news/local-news/prison-report-highlights-a-rise-of-self-harming-incidents-in-2014-1-7294001?utm_medium=twitter&utm_source=dlvr.it

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.

Harmless and The Tomorrow Project would like to invite you to contribute to our blog

Our blog is important to us because it helps us to convey a range of issues around self harm and suicide to the public. It helps us reach people in distress and promote better understanding about these issues amongst our readers.

It helps us tell you about our work, upcoming events, dispel myths and offer advice. But we also want it to challenge stigma and to offer real stories about self harm and recovery so that people reading this can feel connected to what we do and who we help.

If you would like to write a blog for us about your experiences, then you can submit this to info@harmless.org.uk with the title ‘blog post’. In your email, please tell us what name you would like us to use for you. You can say as little about your identity as you want.

The blog should be about 200 -300 words in length and shouldn’t be graphic in any way, but should offer the reader an insight into your experiences that might help them relate to self harm, distress, or suicide. The blog could be about what you’ve felt or experienced, what’s helped, or not helped… What needs to change, or what the stigma around these issues has been for you.

It is vital to us that we represent your voice and your experiences, so if you feel you can contribute to this blog, please do.

We look forward to hearing from you.