Form Harm to Hope: Introducing the Speakers

Alex Parkin

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Alex has 4 years’ experience working previously in nurseries and schools within Lincoln, having developed a passion for working with children with Special Educational Needs, Alex knew this is where she wanted to work. Alex has worked in children’s and adult’s residential settings for two years, providing daily support to them in a home from home setting.

Alex recently returned to education and completed her BSc Hons Degree in Health and Social care at Lincoln University, during her time at Lincoln University Alex started volunteering for local organisations within the care sector. Where she met Naomi Watkins, Alex worked alongside Naomi for over a year teaching Domestic Abuse workshops to young people and teachers. As well as providing nurture groups for young children within schools.

Alex found her passion working with children and young people, whilst supporting them with various topics. Alex began by providing one to one support work with young people, since then Alex has developed a passion to run support groups for young people in Domestic Abuse relationships and for Young Parents.

Since graduating in May 2017, Alex became the Co-founder of NWCH CIC alongside Naomi, a new and unique counselling hub in Lincoln, set up to support and help people within the local community following Alex’s passion.

Alex is also a mum to young children and loves spending time with them visiting new places. Alex can be found reading books and taking long mindful walks with her dog in the local park.

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From Harm to Hope: Introducing the Speakers

Sarah Kessling

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After achieving a BA (Hons) degree in Primary Teaching, Sarah began her career teaching at the Royal National Institute for the Blind. This role sparked an interest in pastoral support and led to her completing an MSc in Psychological Well-being. Consequently Sarah implemented this further education within her role as Student Development Officer at a Secondary School in Buckinghamshire. Both her interest in teaching and passion for mental health has led to Sarah delivering in the role of Training Team Leader at Harmless.

Sarah’s role continues to provide many opportunities to become involved in planning, facilitating and evaluation across the broad range of Harmless’ training programmes. 

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From Harm to Hope: Introducing the Speakers

Pam Burrows

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Pam Burrows has been speaking professionally for over 25 years in the public sector, third sector and in the commercial world. Previously delivering business skills workshops globally to blue chip companies, for the last 17 years she has focused closer to home on the value of boosting the confidence, energy and positivity of people.

In 2015 Pam won a European OSHA award with Nottingham City Homes for reducing stress in the workplace and also became a Fellow of the Professional Speaking Association.

Pam is a qualified Nursery Nurse, Social Worker and Master Practitioner in Neurolinguistic Programming (NLP). She appears regularly on TV and BBC Radio and has produced 2 short films on social issues.

She is taking far too long to write a book and to fill the gap has recently produced an Android and iOS app with free confidence boosting resources. Pam wears a tutu when the mood takes her, gives up sugar and takes it up again on a regular basis and quite likes hugging trees when no-one’s looking.

From Harm to Hope Conference

We are pleased to announce that Harmless’ third national self harm conference will be held on Thursday 1st March 2018, Self Harm Awareness Day. This year’s theme is ‘self harm: suicide prevention starts here’.

As in previous years, the conference will be shaped around the following five strategic areas:

Collaborative partnership
Service user representation
Effective practice
Driving change
Overcoming stigma and discrimination

Our conference gathers together leading academics and experts in the fields of self harm and suicide.

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In the news: Police receive new powers to search people with mental health needs

Guidance issued to police will see many new changes in the way police respond to call outs from December 11. Police will now be expected to “keep” individuals at a ‘place of safety’ (including, potentially, their home) rather than move them to hospitals or police station, which what has typically happened to date. 

Police are to receive new powers next month to search people with mental health needs. The new search power allows police officers to search people in distress when section 135 or 136 (‘sectioning’) orders are imposed. Mental Health Today were first last week to reveal 1,000 people vulnerable people were detained in police cells last year. New guidance released by the Department of Health reveals police will now be given the powers to carry out searches for “their own safety”. 

Guidance issued to police today will see many new changes in the way police respond to call outs from December 11 onwards:

• section 136 powers may now be exercised anywhere other than in a private
dwelling

• it is now unlawful to use a police station as a place of safety for anyone under the age of 18 in any circumstances

• a police station can now only be used as a place of safety for adults in specific circumstances, which are set out in regulations

• the previous maximum detention period of up to 72 hours has been reduced to 24 hours (unless a doctor certifies that an extension of up to 12 hours is necessary)

• before exercising a section 136 power police officers must, where practicable, consult one of the health professionals listed in section 136(1C), or in regulations made under that provision

• a person subject to section 135 or 136 can be kept at, as well as removed to, a place of safety. Therefore, where a section 135 warrant has been executed, a person may be kept at their home (if it is a place of safety) for the purposes of an assessment rather than being removed to another place of safety

• a new search power allows police officers to search persons subject to section 135 or 136 powers for protective purposes.

Link to full blog here: https://www.mentalhealthtoday.co.uk/breaking-police-receive-new-powers-to-search-people-with-mental-health-needs

 

 

In the news: Recognising that mind and body are not separate opens door for new treatments

Descartes’s notion of dualism – that the mind and body are separate entities – is wrong, but has proved surprisingly persistent, and until recently dominated attempts to understand mental illness. When the brain stopped working properly, a psychological origin was sought. Undoubtedly, life’s experiences and our personalities shape the way our brains function. But there is now a compelling body of evidence that brain disorders can also originate from things going awry in our basic biology. Particularly intriguing is the discovery that the brain, once thought to be separated from the immune system by the blood-brain barrier, is powerfully influenced by immune activity.

The latest trial, focused on schizophrenia, is backed by converging evidence from several fields that immune cells in the brain, called microglia, play at least some role in this disease. Prof Oliver Howes, the psychiatrist leading the work, discovered that these cells appear to go into overdrive in the early stages of schizophrenia. Genetics studies have linked changes in immune system genes to increased risk for schizophrenia and anecdotal evidence, including a recent case report of a patient who developed schizophrenia after receiving a bone marrow transplant from a sibling with the illness, also triangulates on to the immune system. “It’s all challenging the idea that the brain is this separate privileged organ,”said Howes.

Schizophrenia is not a special case. Scientists are showing that immune activity may play a role in a broad spectrum of mental disorders, ranging from depression to dementia.

People with diabetes, an auto-immune disease, are 65% more likely to develop dementia, according to a 2015 study. Other research has found that Alzheimer’s patients who suffered regular infections, such as coughs and colds, had a fourfold greater decline in memory tests during a six-month period compared with patients with the lowest infection levels. And there is tentative evidence that some patients with treatment resistant depression may benefit from antibody treatments. Perhaps most striking has been the discovery of an entire network of vessels beneath the skull, linking the brain and the immune system, that had surprisingly been overlooked until very recently.

“It has been a fundamental problem that the brain and mind have been seen as somehow separate entities, and that physical and mental healthcare are separate,” said Belinda Lennox, senior clinical lecturer in psychiatry at the University of Oxford. “It has denied the psychological factors that play a vital part in all medical disorders, just as much as it has denied the importance of the biological factors in mental illness.”

Whether the latest trial will yield a successful treatment is difficult to predict and the psychiatry’s record warns against premature optimism. However, recognising that biological factors, such as the immune system, can have a powerful influence on the brain and sometimes explain why things go wrong, will be essential to finding new and better treatments.

Link to full blog here: https://www.theguardian.com/society/2017/nov/03/recognising-that-mind-and-body-are-not-separate-opens-door-for-new-treatments-schizophrenia

 

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

In the News: Depression and Self Harm Soar Among Private School Pupils

Survey of head teachers finds problems including eating disorders are now at unprecedented levels, with social media and exam stress blamed

Teenage pupils at British private schools are experiencing unprecedented levels of depression, eating disorders and self-harm, according to headteachers, who say longstanding stresses have been amplified by increased pressure over exams and the ever-present anxieties of social media.

The warning comes from the Headmasters’ and Headmistresses’ Conference(HMC), representing 175 leading private schools, which surveyed 65 headteachers on the subject.

The responses found that in some ways, schools appear to have become kinder places, with fewer cases of intolerance such as homophobic bullying, as well as less drug and alcohol misuse. However, they found greatly increased cyberbullying and online threats, and what the HMC called unprecedented levels of self-harm, depression and eating disorders among pupils.

Bernard Trafford, the headmaster of the Royal Grammar school in Newcastle upon Tyne and a former chair of HMC, told the Guardian that exam pressures played some role, with pupils facing higher grade requirements to get into top universities.

But a greater factor, he said, appeared to be the way social media made common teenage anxieties harder to escape, also exaggerating worries over such things as body image.

“It is the pressure to excel, and also to be beautiful, all that stuff. And friendship issues seem to be more difficult than ever. In the old days, you got home from school, or in the boarding sector got back to your boarding house, and you got away from it to some extent.

 

To read the full article, please visit:

http://www.theguardian.com/education/2015/oct/04/depression-self-harm-eating-disorders-private-school-pupils-headteachers-poll?CMP=twt_gu

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

Write Minds to support people who self harm through creative writing and the arts

Our former administrator, Hayley, has recently set up a organisation called Write Minds, working with individuals who have experience of self harm and suicide ideation, promoting self expression through creative writing and the arts.

Their first project will start in October, working specifically with young people aged 16-24 with experience of self harm.

Participants will attend weekly evening workshops with professional poets to develop their creative skills, culminating in the creation of an interactive Poetry Pamphlet, to combine poetry, visuals and music into a downloadable app. This will be accompanied by a documentary on the process of the activity and a final sharing showcase.

This project will be researched by Harmless to measure the effectiveness of creative arts on self harm.

Please help support this vital project and research by helping to raise funds via their Crowdfunding page  https://crowdfunding.justgiving.com/Write-Minds All of the money raised through this Crowdfunder will go directly towards researching the amazing work they are doing and making sure interventions like this one have a future.

Thank you for your support!

Ruth Wadman on why she does research on self harm

About me

I am a psychologist by training, and completed my PhD, on social and emotional difficulties in adolescents with language impairments, at the University of Manchester in 2008. Since then, I moved to the University of Nottingham to work on a research project with teenagers with Tourette syndrome. Now I work as a Research Fellow on the ‘Listen-up’ project: understanding and helping looked-after young people who self harm, led by Dr Ellen Townsend at the University of Nottingham.

Why I wanted to do research about self harm

I am interested in lots of different aspects of emotional health and social well-being in adolescence. I became involved in research on self harm for a number of reasons. Firstly, some of the young people involved in my previous research self harmed, and I wanted to learn more about it. Secondly, self harm is something that can affect anyone; it does not fit into a “neat” diagnostic box and as such can be overlooked both in clinical practice and research. Finally, the ‘Listen-up’ research project offered the opportunity to be involved in a truly neglected area of self harm research, with young people in foster or residential care. This research has the potential to really make a difference in terms of self harm policy and practice.

Why I like doing self harm research

My research has involved doing in-depth interviews with young people who self harm. Basically this involves sitting down with someone and saying “tell me about your experiences of self harm”. Compared to doing surveys and questionnaires, this approach gives much more detailed insight into what psychologists call the “lived experience” of self harm.  But, on a more personal level, this provides the opportunity to really listen to what young people have to say about self harm. Of course, I hear about people’s struggles and problems, but I also hear stories of strength, resilience and determination.  I am very grateful to all the young people who have given their time and shared their experiences with me.  I have also enjoyed collaborating with Harmless during this research, especially working with the project’s advisory group of young people.

What I would like to do next

At the moment I am busy writing up our research findings for publication as reports in scientific journals. The research team, with the help of our advisory group, will be making policy recommendations for self harm support. We will also share our findings with young people and carers, as well as social care and mental health practitioners.  Then I would like to do more research on self harm. I am particularly interested in the role schools can play in providing support for self harm, but also in addressing the stigma around self harm and emotional health more generally. I also think it is really important to ask young people what their priorities for research are, which is something I hope to explore in the near future.