Understanding self-harm and how we can help

How common is self-harm?

Self-harm is said to affect an estimated 1 in 14 people over a lifetime.  

However, there’s a problem with statistics. Statistics rely on individuals, self-reporting their self-harm. This might be through an anonymous survey collected by for example, a third sector organisation. Or perhaps they have attended A&E for help and for their injury to be treated.

An obvious problem here, is that not all people, will do these things. Self-harm is a secretive act that many children, young people and adults try their best to hide from others, and therefore we are unaware, and the data collectors are unaware, and secondly the individual would have to recognise their actions as self-harming.

What is self-harm?

Self-harm is generally defined as an intentional act of harm inflicted upon oneself. Certain behaviours spring to mind when we mention self-harm, but in reality, self-harming behaviours go far beyond the acts that are more commonly spoken about.

Self-harm can take the form of indirect behaviours, and much less obvious behaviours, such as purposely getting into fights, eyelash pulling, and engaging in risky behaviour.

Essentially, anything that is being done intentionally to cause harm to oneself, can be classed as self-harm. This tells us there are likely to be many more young people – and adults, that are harming themselves.

Looking beyond the behaviour

We’ll focus on young people. The aim of understanding self-harm in order to help the young person, must be to look beyond the behaviour and address what is causing it.

What emotions are behind the self-harm? What emotions does it elicit for the young person?

Do they recognise the emotions they are experiencing and where they are coming from?

Young people can self-harm for a wealth of different reasons – some find it gives them a sense of comfort, others a sense of control. Others it could be punishment, and others it’s a way to feel something when everything else feels numb.

By seeking to understand the emotions behind the self-harm and the needs it is meeting, we can identify appropriate alternative coping strategies. For example, if a young person self-harms to soothe themselves, meditation may be an appropriate distraction or coping strategy. If a young person self-harms to release built up pressure, then engaging in something physical like dancing or running may be an alternative strategy.

A young person cannot just stop self-harming, and this can be a long process through which we support them to try new ways of coping and introduce distraction techniques that gradually reduce the self-harm over time. They may also need additional support to address the problems that caused the self-harm in the first place.

Interested in learning more? Book our 3 hour ‘Self-Harm Alert’ course for your team today. Contact training@mentalhealthlearning.co.uk or call 07970041324

Why LivingWorks Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training isn’t a ‘one-off’

Fantastic. Your team has attended LivingWorks Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training (ASIST). Job done right? Another item ticked off the list. No need to build the cost into further budgets, everyone’s skilled up and ready to go for the rest of their careers.

Firstly, AMAZING if you have gotten this far – you’ve accepted that suicide prevention is your business and recognised this is a challenge your team can help with this. Not only that, but you’ve understood that your team should receive support through training to do this, and you appreciate the value behind ASIST – arguably the only skills building suicide intervention training that exists. Participants who attend ASIST are more prepared, confident, willing and able to ask about suicide and intervene. BUT does this feeling last? Do participants remember the knowledge, and keep the skills they develop, forever?

I wonder, if you could dig out your policy for manual handling.. for cybersecurity… Safeguarding… Physical first aid….

I’m fairly confident that each of those policies, would include words to the effect of ‘training to be completed by staff every X years’.

So, I’m curious, why so many organisations feel this should be different for suicide intervention training. That once the training bas been completed, there’s no need for staff to ever complete it again.

Why should we complete ASIST reguarly?

The need for regular, recurring training isn’t any different for suicide intervention training. You’re equipping your staff with suicide first aid, and like all training, memories fade and behaviours and skills can be unlearnt.

A suicide-first aid intervention is a life and death situation, and if your team haven’t used their skills for 2 or more years, recalling their learning will be difficult. If helpers feel unprepared, unconfident they will be less willing to ask about suicide and provide an intervention – some potential helpers may avoid help-giving altogether.

My team support individuals with thoughts of suicide on a regular basis – do they need to attend ASIST regularly?

Even if your team are frequently putting their training into practice, it’s still important for them to attend regular training. Without regular training there is a possible risk for caregivers to become desensitised. ASIST would give your team an opportunity to revisit their thoughts, feelings and attitudes around suicide and the experiences they have had which shape these. This reflective process would enable your team to consider their practice and what impacts on their help-giving qualities and approaches, as well as reminding them of the steps to take in an intervention and re-learn the skills needed to do this well.

How often should we attend ASIST?

The recommendation for individuals, is to attend ASIST every 3 years. Grab your certificate now, or check your calendar – if you and your team attended ASIST 2.5 years ago or more, contact Mental Health Learning to arrange a course today.

Survivors Of Suicide Loss Day – 19th November

International Survivors of Suicide Loss Day is an event where survivors of suicide loss come together to find solace, support, and connection.

Suicide Case Statistics In the UK In the Past Few Years

More than 5,583 suicides were registered in 2021 in England and Wales, which was 6.9 higher than in 2020 (5,224 deaths) and equal to an age-standardized mortality rate of 10.7 deaths per 100,000 individuals.

Moreover, Provisional analysis indicates 10.7 suicides per 100,000 people in Quarter 1 (January to March) 2022 in England, including 1,314 deaths. In Quarter 2 (April to June) 2022, there were 9.7 suicides per 100,000 people, including 1,201 deaths.

U.K. SUICIDE RATE DATA: 2015-2019
YearTotalMaleFemale
20197.9011.804.00%
20188.1012.204.10%
20178.2012.504.10%
20168.5013.004.10%
20158.8013.404.40%

The Impact Of Increasing Suicide Cases On Society

Experiencing a loss of a loved one to death by suicide can be devastating. After a person experiences death due to suicide, the emotional sensations that surface can be significant and gut-wrenching. Many individuals may feel guilty and wonder what they could have done to prevent the tragedy.

Each death leaves family and friends distraught and bewildered, fighting to comprehend and deal with their feelings about this loss. Yet, as a result of the stigma around suicide and mental health issues, as well as multiple layers of complicated emotions around suicide, people may be hesitant to reach out for help and support or may not be able to get the needed help they need to cope with this monumental loss.

Survivors Of Suicide Loss: Play Your Part!

Several recent studies have shown that it’s imperative to discuss and compensate for the well-being of survivors. Studies focusing on survivors of suicide have found that feelings of belongingness, talking about the tragedy, and social support are instrumental in their recovery and growth. In 2019, a study of suicide loss found that having greater social connection was correlated with fewer symptoms of depression, less bereavement difficulty, and increased personal growth.

individual being

One survey found that people tend to refrain from talking about their trauma to family and friends. This lack of sharing often leads to loneliness, detachment, difficulty coping, and a higher likelihood of sleep problems and depression. The authors state that when suicide survivors speak and share, the more meaningful trust helps them recover and prevents them from developing social security disabilities and health issues. You can help, by creating opportunities for loss to be shared and freely spoken about, reducing feelings of isolation. Mental Health Learning is doing the same so.

How Is Mental Health Learning Creating a Change?

Mental Health Learning provides mental health and suicide prevention training professionally tailored to your organisation or community. Their courses are 60 minutes to 2 days; they can come to you at your organisation or the location of your choice. Many of their courses can also be taken online. To know more about their courses and plan, visit their site.

Conclusion

Suicide is a tragedy that impacts everyone differently. However, bystanders and survivors can unite to support one another on Survivors of Suicide Loss Day. This day is an opportunity to reflect upon the loss of a loved one to suicide, open up about your own experience, and connect with others who understand what you’re going through. If you or someone you know is struggling with suicidal thoughts, please reach out for help.

World Mental Health Day 2022 – Making Mental Health a Global Priority

The COVID-19 pandemic has created a global crisis for mental health, fueling short- and long-term stresses and undermining the mental health of millions. Estimates put the rise in both anxiety and depressive disorders at more than 25% during the first year of the pandemic. At the same time, mental health services have been severely disrupted and the treatment gap for mental health conditions has widened.

That’s why the theme for this year’s World Mental Health Day is ‘Make Mental Health a Global Priority’. It’s up to all of us to help raise awareness about the impact the pandemic has had on mental health across the globe and the need to increase funding for mental healthcare services.

One way to help is to start at the source and educate children in school about mental wellbeing. This idea is being used across the globe currently with the UK adding a ‘Teaching about mental wellbeing’ teacher training model to the curriculum. We have developed this mental wellbeing teacher training module to help subject leads and teachers understand what they should teach, as well as improving their confidence in delivering mental wellbeing as part of the new curriculum. This new curriculum became statutory in the UK in September 2020.

In America, they have a slightly more involved approach. They may hire school-based therapists or social workers, they can provide access to prevention programming, early identification of mental health challenges, and treatment options. They can also partner with community mental health organisations and agencies to develop an integrated, comprehensive program of support and services.

Throughout Europe, changes are being discussed and a framework on how well-being and mental health in schools may be promoted through a systemic, whole-school approach is being proposed. A whole-school approach mobilises the various resources of the whole school community, including the active engagement and voices of students, staff, parents and professionals, towards a collaborative effort to promote the mental health and well-being of all members of the community.

What can you do?

One thing you can do to help this process is to educate yourself and others and learn how you can pass on this knowledge to the younger generation. At Mental Health Learning, we can provide your school staff with the training they need to spot signs of distress and support pupils with their mental health in your school. You can find out more here.

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World Suicide Prevention Day 2022 – Creating Hope Through Action and Keeping the Conversation Going.

This year, World Suicide Prevention Day was the 10th September and  “Creating hope through action” is the triennial theme for the World Suicide Prevention Day from 2021 – 2023. This theme is a reminder that there is an alternative to suicide and aims to inspire confidence and light in all of us.

There was a MASSIVE impact on mental health globally throughout the pandemic, so we look at the statistics over a three year period to ensure we’re getting a comprehensive view of how this issue is affecting everyone. By taking the average across three year periods we get a better idea of where people are suffering and can use the data to create a plan of action to help.

We’re encouraging you to continue the conversation all year round as the issue is always prevalent – and there’s always something we can do to help. An estimated 703,000 people a year take their life around the world. For every suicide, there are likely 20 other people making a suicide attempt and many more have serious thoughts of suicide. Millions of people suffer intense grief or are otherwise profoundly impacted by suicidal behaviours. This is why it’s of vital importance that we all do what we can.

How can you get involved?

By encouraging understanding, reaching out and sharing experiences, we want to give people the confidence to take action. To prevent suicide requires us to become a beacon of light to those in pain. You don’t need to have all the answers, you just need to be willing to help.

We can all play a role in supporting those experiencing a suicidal crisis or those bereaved by suicide whether as a member of society, as a child, as a parent, as a friend, as a colleague or as a person with lived experience.

Here are some ways you can take action:

  1. Get informed: there are plenty of courses you can take to better understand how to spot the signs of someone suffering from poor mental health and suicidal thoughts. We have a number of available courses we can teach online or in your community, you can find out more here.
  2. Keep the conversation open: check in with your friends, family, co-workers or anyone you think may be struggling. It can be helpful to open dialogue by opening up about your own feelings and starting to normalise talking about these issues.
  3. Get involved with charities: this is a great way to help if you’re really passionate about making a difference in this area. There are so many worthy charities that help people who are suffering in this way that you can help and that will give you the knowledge you need to help more effectively. For example, the Samaritans have a great article on World Suicide Prevention Day that you can find here.

If you’re looking for more information, the government has a strategy document for how they plan to help bring suicide rates down, you can find it here.

The only true way to tackle this issue, make a difference and save lives is to keep spreading awareness and to keep educating ourselves. If you have any questions or want to find out more about our courses, visit our website or follow us on Twitter.

Graduate Mental Health

Research shows that 62% of Gen Z have taken a mental health sick day, but only 24% were honest with their employer. Mental health issues are prevalent in society, yet they are still not commonly discussed in the workplace, despite the fact that many people take mental health sick days. There has been a rise in mental health issues among students over the past decade and these issues do not end once the student enters the workplace.
Starting a first job can also create mental health and wellbeing issues among graduates, who face a range of stressors at this time. The good news is that there are actions that companies can take to improve their attractiveness to graduates through taking mental health and wellbeing seriously.

Addressing mental health and wellbeing at work

Some factors are more likely to promote better mental wellbeing and lower levels of stress among graduates, highlighted in the Student Minds Graduate Wellbeing Report. Here are the factors that are noted as being particularly influential:

  • Organisations who are proactive about promoting wellbeing fare better
  • Having someone that a graduate is confident contacting if their wellbeing is suffering
  • Having a manager interested in their personal development
  • Being able to take a lunch break or other breaks
  • Finding the work they are doing interesting
  • Being included in work-related social activities is also key
  • Financial pressures are an important stressor impacting on mental health and wellbeing – support with relocation was noted as helpful

Companies are at least to some extent taking mental health matters seriously. The Institute of Student Employers (ISE) found in their Student Development Survey 2020, that the vast majority of firms (97%) provide mental health support and three quarters (78%) have a mental wellbeing policy. 43% of companies also state that they address mental wellbeing in recruitment.

Ideally, all graduates would have the confidence to discuss mental health issues or stress to their manager, but the Student Minds report reveals that only just over half (51%) say that this is the case. That figure falls to 47% among those who have experience of mental health difficulties.

Conclusion…

Mental Health Learning is a North West England based organisation, founded with communities and businesses in mind. We bring expert knowledge and build life-saving skills around serious topics at the heart of our communities because that’s where it really matters.

We give course participants the confidence, knowledge, tools and practical skills to

  • listen effectively
  • know what to say
  • know what support to offer and how

This will help you support people experiencing difficulty with

  • mental health
  • self-harm
  • thoughts of suicide
  • issues in the workplace

Our courses run from 60 minutes to 2 days and we can deliver them to your organisation in a venue of your choice. Many of our courses can also be delivered online.