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Welcome to Harmless

Support at Harmless

Harmless is a user led organisation that provides a range of services about self harm and suicide prevention including support, information, training and consultancy to people who self harm, their friends and families and professionals and those at risk of suicide.

Harmless was set up by people who understand these issues and at the heart of our service is a real sense of hope. We know that with the right support and help life can get better. We hope that you find this site a safe and helpful resource.

Feel free to look around and we welcome your thoughts and feedback about our site and services.

Self Harm & Suicide Prevention Services

Harmless now deliver a range of services and also deliver The Tomorrow Project. In the last ten years we have delivered contracted and funded work for a variety of providers, but are largely self-funded through the selling of training etc. This enables us to preserve long-term and compassionate help for all those that need us.

We provide drop-in, crisis café, short and long-term support and psychotherapy. Under The Tomorrow Project we additionally deliver suicide crisis and bereavement services.

For more information or to volunteer your time and fundraising skills to keep these vital services going, please contact us.

The Harmless Approach

We believe in hope and recovery. We place people with lived experience at the heart of our service, ensuring that we deliver a broad range of service options to meet a variety of needs. Working across age and gender we do our very best to surround the people we help with compassion and practical help and support.

Unbelievably grateful for all the support https://t.co/Ija4DQykf8

RT @Localgiving: Wow! There are 4 fundraisers on 50 points vying for 20th place & a £100 prize for their #smallbutvital charity. Who will…

Sarah from @letstalknlearn is in #London today raising awareness for #Selfharm and #SuicidePrevention @OptimusEd https://t.co/GOnk2l0KKZ

Harmless Workbook: Working Through Self Harm Harmless Workbook

Available in either electronic or hard copy, 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, encouraging alternative methods of coping.

For more information, or to find out how to buy our workbook, please follow this link.

Out of Harm's Way DVD Harmless DVD

Out of Harm's Way. Through the eyes of those with first hand experience, we examine the nature of self harm, distress and recovery. A resource both for those that self harm and for professionals.

For more information, or to find out how to buy our DVD, please follow this link.

PTSD affects 'one in 13 by age of 18' One in 13 young people in England and Wales experiences post-traumatic stress disorder by the age of 18, the first research of its kind suggests. A study of more than 2,000 18-year-olds found nearly a third had experienced trauma in childhood. And a quarter of these then developed PTSD, which can cause insomnia, flashbacks and feelings of isolation. Researchers say, with many young people not receiving the support they need, the study should be a "wake-up call". The study, published in The Lancet Psychiatry, found slightly more than half of those who had had PTSD - an anxiety disorder caused by very stressful, frightening or distressing events - had also experienced a major depressive episode and one in five had attempted suicide. But only the same proportion - one in five - had been seen by a mental health professional in the past year. Lead researcher Dr Stephanie Lewis, a Medical Research Council-funded researcher at the King's College London Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience, said: "Providing effective treatments early on could prevent mental health problems continuing into adulthood." Flo Sharman, 20, had a breakdown at the age of eight that left her housebound. But it was only when she was 16 that neurologists concluded that breakdown was linked to something that had happened to her as a baby. At four months old, Flo had a life-saving operation to remove parts of her stomach - to treat her serious acid reflux, which affected her ability to breathe. The condition had led to her needing to be resuscitated on many occasions, Flo said. Doctors now believe her breakdown was caused by PTSD, a delayed reaction to the trauma she experienced as a baby, even though she has no conscious memory of what happened. She says: "When I had that life-saving surgery and the traumatic experiences in hospital, my parents weren't told you could have post-traumatic stress disorder because of the surgery and the time in hospital. "They had no idea that this mental breakdown would happen. It was a real shock." Flo still has PTSD, which she says many people wrongly think affects only those in the armed forces. "People don't really associate PTSD with a young child - and that has to change," she adds. 'Falling through the gaps' Participants in the study were judged to have had PTSD only if they had had all of the following symptoms for at least a month: reliving traumatic events through distressing memories or nightmares avoiding anything reminding them of their trauma feelings of guilt, isolation or detachment irritability, impulsivity or difficulty concentrating Experiences of childhood trauma included assault, sexual assault, injury or an event that had affected someone they knew but they had not directly witnessed. Senior researcher Prof Andrea Danese, from the King's College London Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience, said: "Our findings should serve as a wake-up call. "Childhood trauma is a public-health concern - yet trauma-related disorders often go unnoticed. "Young people with PTSD are falling through the gaps in care and there is a pressing need for better access to mental health services." What is PTSD? Being caught up in a traumatic event that is overwhelming, frightening and life-threatening can lead to PTSD The symptoms usually start within a few weeks of the trauma but they can start later After the traumatic event, people can feel grief-stricken, depressed, anxious, guilty and angry People may have flashbacks and nightmares People may be 'on guard' - staying alert all the time Physical symptoms can be aches and pains, diarrhoea, irregular heartbeats, headaches, feelings of panic and fear, depression People may start drinking too much alcohol or using drugs (including painkillers) Source: Royal College of Psychiatrists Prof Danese said people should not be "alarmed" by the study's findings and it was normal to have some psychological symptoms after trauma. In the "vast majority" of cases, these symptoms would recede in a matter of days or weeks, he said. But if children and young people had them for over a month, parents should seek help from their GP. PTSD can be successfully treated - even when it develops many years after a traumatic event - with treatments including talking therapies and antidepressants. Dr Tim Dalgleish, from the University of Cambridge, who was not involved in the research, said the results of the "landmark study" were "sobering". "Of particular concern is the relatively small proportion of affected youth who go on to access formal support or mental health services and the findings are a further wake-up call that service provision in the UK for children and adolescents dealing with the aftermath of trauma is woefully inadequate," he said. A Department of Health and Social Care spokeswoman said: "The NHS Long Term Plan has committed to prioritising increasing the funding for children and young people's mental health services faster than all other funding. "As a result, 345,000 more children and young people have access to mental health services and support in schools and colleges, young adults will receive better support until the age of 25 and crisis care will be provided through NHS 111, 24 hours a day, seven days a week." https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-47317891?utm_campaign=meetedgar&utm_medium=social&utm_source=meetedgar.com&fbclid=IwAR2uCg45cpk2Gg9E9T6mVuAONNcSAeMOT43FFzsXZPjSOURbZL_7P9bB4zI

Mel B is watching flashing lights to help with trauma. But does EMDR therapy really work? The singer is trying it, and while it was once controversial, it now has NHS approval. What is Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing, and how does it compare to CBT? In late 2016, Ben had a breakdown, triggered by someone getting too close to him on a crowded train. It brought on vivid flashbacks of a severe childhood trauma 30 years ago. Until then he had lived a successful life – he had done well at school, had a good career and was married with a family. Referred to a trauma clinic at his local hospital, Ben started a psychotherapy treatment, Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing (EMDR) earlier this year. It sounded, he says: “like witchcraft. How can this possibly work? They sit you in front of flashing lights and it makes you better? It sounds like alchemy.” EMDR was recently highlighted by the pop singer Mel B, who is said to be undergoing the therapy for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Talking about her diagnosis, a condition she had been using sex and alcohol to self-treat, she said: “I am still struggling but if I can shine a light on the issue of pain, PTSD and the things men and women do to mask it, I will do”. Of the EMDR, she said: “So far, it’s really helping me.” EMDR works, says Robin Logie, clinical psychologist and former president of the EMDR Association, by helping the brain to process traumatic memories – it is mainly used as a treatment for PTSD, but can be used for depression, anxiety, addiction and phobias. “The way we do that is to get the person to think about a particular moment. For example, with a road traffic accident – it could be the moment just before you’re hit. We ask them to describe what negative belief they have about themselves.” It could be something like: ‘I’m not safe.’” We ask what emotion seems to go with that and where they feel it in their body.” While the person is doing all this, they are asked to move their eyes from side to side – this could be by following the therapist’s finger, or following flashing lights. It can also be done by holding a device in each hand, which pulses alternately. Each set could be repeated 20 or 30 times in each session. “The memory starts to become less distressing,” he says. “It transforms it from a memory that previously made you feel anxious or scared, into a memory that is like any other that wouldn’t normally produce an emotional response. People start to be more rational about it: ‘I wasn’t in a safe situation then, but I’m safe now.’” In the early stages of treatment, says Ben: “It was like being in the event. It’s like a kind of time travel. The whole EMDR process is like a controlled flashback – you’re aware that you’re here and now, but you also feel like you’re in the body from then and re-experiencing as then. I was not prepared for the physical, visceral nature of reliving the experience. I would be seeing things, smelling things. I felt this pressure across my front and it was unnerving.” He says he felt like a ventriloquist’s dummy “because the words I was using to describe [my experiences] were children’s words. It was like the child, the person who experienced the trauma, was using me as a mouthpiece.” As the treatment went on, the memories became more and more vivid and detailed. It has, unsurprisingly, been a difficult process to go through, and Ben’s mental health seemed to get worse before it started to get better. He is still going through treatment. “It’s a process I have found genuinely transformative,” he says. EMDR was discovered by accident in the late 80s by an American psychologist, Francine Shapiro, who noticed that her eye movements, while looking at things on a walk through a park, appeared to reduce negative emotions. It used to be considered controversial but that is now an outdated view, says Melanie Temple, consultant psychiatrist and EMDR consultant (it is approved for use by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence). One of the problems for EMDR is that nobody can explain exactly how it works – one theory is that the eye movements mimic the rapid-eye-movement phase of sleep, which is when the day’s events are processed. “We understand it works on the information-processing models within the brain, but we don’t know exactly how,” says Temple. “But then we don’t know exactly how cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) works. It’s really the same for all therapies.” Not everyone is ready for EMDR. “If someone has had a simple one-off trauma, such as an accident, in their adult life, you don’t need to do a lot of preparation, but we also work with people who have multiple traumas going back to early childhood,” says Logie. “With people like that you have to do more preparation and the therapy will last longer.” Preparing someone to undergo EMDR can include teaching them relaxation techniques, and strengthening the support structures in their lives. If not properly used, says Claudia Herbert, clinical psychologist and managing director of the Oxford Development Centre and author of Overcoming Traumatic Stress: “Any type of therapy can be re-traumatising. It has to be used by someone who is properly trained and experienced to know when to use it and not to use it.” It wouldn’t be used with someone who was dissociated – one symptom of PTSD – where they are not “grounded” in their body, or feel disoriented. “We would have to work with the dissociation first before we work with EMDR.” For Katherine Gilmartin, an artist and family mental health activist, diagnosed with complex PTSD as a result of childhood abuse, EMDR couldn’t begin immediately. “I was asked to think of somewhere I’d felt safe in the past. There was nothing,” she says. “So I had to make one.” She says EMDR, which she had once a week for more than six months, was “physically exhausting. The heightened experience of being in those traumatic memories whirls everything up and nightmares occur.” Was it difficult to go through? “Yes, but I felt in control [when] ordinarily I didn’t feel in control. It is hard work and [you have to be] open to it. It’s not a fix-all and you have to trust the person you are doing it with.” For her, it has made an improvement. “Different places, or really silly things, which could be quite triggering are no longer a problem. I’m able to recognise and understand my feelings around whatever the thing is.” These tend to be things she recognises from childhood – once, she was in a department store and saw a houseplant she hadn’t seen for decades. “I was taken right back to being 10. I couldn’t be anywhere near it and I walked out of the shop.” That sort of thing, she says, wouldn’t happen now. Temple used to work for the military where EMDR is a standard therapy for people suffering PTSD; she now practises it for the NHS. Where EMDR may have the edge, she says, is that it: “Suits a lot of people because unlike CBT [which is also offered as treatment for trauma], it doesn’t have homework. EMDR is very well-established now [and is] equally offered alongside trauma-focused CBT because one size doesn’t fit all. If one doesn’t suit them, then they can use something different, so they don’t feel that they’re not treatable.” Although it can be powerful and effective, people shouldn’t expect a magical quick fix, she says. Ben has had more than 30 sessions and does not know when he will stop. “It’s had a hugely beneficial effect,” he says. Although the two or three days after each session are, he says, a “write-off”, he has been able to go back to work part-time. “I have moved from being this ventriloquist’s dummy for the child inside, to being an adult looking at what was happening; being really sad and upset and angry about it, but having a natural emotional reaction, rather than feeling the distress of it happening to me.” https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2018/sep/10/mel-b-is-watching-flashing-lights-to-help-with-trauma-but-does-emdr-therapy-really-work?CMP=Share_iOSApp_Other&utm_campaign=meetedgar&utm_medium=social&utm_source=meetedgar.com&fbclid=IwAR2fN11z4Y7LQtV_tiPs2QyTnMTVMa5rRS08tPG6mVljklzLyN4rD4Yi3W4

Tips for helping young children with perfectionism There’s a perception in our society that perfectionism is a good thing, akin to ‘being perfect’; That it’s something to strive for or to drop into conversation in job interviews… Yet the reality is quite different. Perfectionism leads people to place unreasonably and often unrealistically high expectations on themselves, which, when inevitably unmet, leads to frustration and self-blame. Of course, this can be very unsettling to witness in young children and it can be hard for parents and educators to know how best to help. Perhaps you have a young child who refuses to draw because their drawings don’t look exactly like those of an adult artist. Or maybe you work with a child who has become distressed by a small mistake in their school work and who has insisted on starting the whole project again (while the rest of the class moves on…) Of course the earlier we can help children change unhealthy habits, the better. So let’s look at a few tips for how we might address this in young children. Firstly, be mindful of how you use praise. There are two ways in which we tend to praise children. ‘Content’ praise often draws attention to the end product, for example, “What a beautiful picture”, or,“That’s a fantastic block tower”. In contrast, process praise focuses on how the child got there. When we use process praise, we draw attention to their good ideas, problem solving approaches, effort, persistence, concentration and enthusiasm. While it’s helpful for all children to experience more process praise than content praise, this is particularly true for children with perfectionistic traits. This allows us to draw the focus away from how impressive the end result might (or should) be and instead highlight the importance of having a go and learning along the way. For example, rather than saying, ‘That’s a fantastic drawing of a bus! You’re an amazing artist – what were you worried about?’, it might be more helpful to say something like, ‘It’s great to see you having a go at drawing. I love watching you try new things’. Of course, most of the time we needn’t praise children at all. Saying simply, ‘Drawing is fun isn’t it?’ is often enough to provide children with that important sense of connection. Secondly, model making mistakes. Our abilities as adults generally exceed those of our children. Children may see us as perfect and strive to be the same. It’s helpful for little ones to see that we mistakes too, and importantly to also learn through our modelling how mistakes can be handled. Look for (or create!) opportunities to do this. When you’ve been asked to bring over the pencils to the table, you could bring the scissors instead and say, ‘Oops, my mistake. Not to worry. I’ll just go back and swap these over.’ Or, perhaps you could draw alongside your child and deliberately keep from drawing inside the lines, commenting as you go, ‘I love drawing with you’. By doing so, you model for your child that mistakes are okay, that they needn’t hamper your enjoyment of a task and importantly, that the end result isn’t all that matters. Thirdly, consider how you react when your child behaves in an ‘imperfect’ way. Do you respond calmly when your little one accidentally spills cereal all over the breakfast table or do you tend to overreact? It’s important when we’re teaching our children that they needn’t be perfect, that our responses back this up. By accepting our children as they are – wonderful, ‘good enough’ young learners – we teach them to do the same. And that’s so much better than perfect. https://adoseofawesomeness.com/tips-helping-young-children-perfectionism/?fbclid=IwAR0Tc7KMZk_0DysWP9vzjMFZ-T75e38mPOSycqPEnVzKqZjSaH3APkueojs

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Latest News
PTSD affects ‘one in 13 by age of 18’ Posted Tuesday 21st May 2019

One in 13 young people in England and Wales experiences post-traumatic stress disorder by the age of 18, the first research of its kind suggests. A study of more than 2,000 18-year-olds found nearly a third had experienced trauma in …

Mel B is watching flashing lights to help with trauma. But does EMDR therapy really work? Posted Monday 20th May 2019

The singer is trying it, and while it was once controversial, it now has NHS approval. What is Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing, and how does it compare to CBT? In late 2016, Ben had a breakdown, triggered by someone …

Tips for helping young children with perfectionism Posted Friday 17th May 2019

There’s a perception in our society that perfectionism is a good thing, akin to ‘being perfect’; That it’s something to strive for or to drop into conversation in job interviews… Yet the reality is quite different. Perfectionism l