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.      

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.

Harmless speak at national self harm conference

Earlier today one of the Harmless’ team, Naomi Stewart, spoke at a national self harm conference hosted by Lancashire Mind.

The conference, held at Ewood Park Blackburn as part of self harm awareness 2015,  provided an important opportunity for delegates to build skills, knowledge and confidence in supporting children and young people who self harm.

Naomi’s presentation explored Harmless’ work in the community and shared numerous proven methods of how to successfully help those who self harm; which we hope will allow professionals within the field to more efficiently aid those who self harm in a proven and effective way. Delivered in the context of a growing evidence base, Naomi explored the data, relationships and vital service user voice in the  effectiveness and lessons learned by our service.

We were really pleased to asked to be part of the national conference and would like to take this opportunity to thank Mind Lancashire and the event organisers.

In the news… Those who self-harm as teenagers are more at risk of developing mental health and substance misuse problems as adults, new research from the biggest study of its kind in the UK has revealed.

Researchers at the University of Bristol, working together with colleagues from the University of Oxford and University College London, collected data from 4,799 adolescents as part of Children of the 90s - one of the world’s largest population studies – to examine the outcomes of self-harm for the first time.

The research paper, funded by the Medical Research Council and published online in the BMJ today [22 October], reveals that almost a fifth (19 per cent) of 16-year-olds who took part in the study had a history of self-harm and most had not sought help from health professionals.

Examining their progress over the following five years showed that even those who self-harmed without suicidal intent had an increased risk of developing mental health problems, such as depression and anxiety, compared with adolescents who had not self-harmed.

They were also more likely to self-harm in the future and to have substance misuse problems, such as using illegal drugs, smoking and drinking too much.

Those who self-harmed with suicidal intent were also more at risk of poorer GCSE and A-level results and were less likely to be in further education, training or employment three years later.

Although risks were generally stronger in those who had self-harmed with suicidal intent, outcomes were also poor amongst those who had self-harmed without suicidal intent.

Dr Becky Mars, who led the research at Bristol University’s School of Social and Community Medicine, said: “We’ve shown for the first time that adolescents who self-harm are more vulnerable to a range of adverse conditions in early adulthood. While we cannot say that self-harm directly causes such problems, it’s certainly a sign that all is not well and professionals need to be aware of such behaviour and identify it early.

“There is widespread lack of understanding amongst health and teaching professionals about those who self-harm without intending to take their lives. It should not be dismissed or viewed as trivial, as it could be a warning sign for suicidal behaviour or other problems later in life. These new findings highlight the importance of self-harm and the need for better understanding among professionals likely to come across youngsters who self-harm.”

Paper

‘Clinical and social outcomes of adolescent self harm: population based birth cohort study’(open access) by Becky Mars, Jon Heron, Catherine Crane, Keith Hawton, Glyn Lewis, John Macleod, Kate Tilling and David Gunnell in the BMJ.

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

 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 listenup@nottingham.ac.uk, call 0115 8467319 or visit the website: www.listen-up.ac.uk

 

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 listenup@nottingham.ac.uk, call 0115 8467319 or visit the website: www.listen-up.ac.uk