Special kits launched to support those at risk of self-harm

Self-harm safe kits have been created to support young people in Lancashire who are suffering from mental illness.

Self-harm is a major public health concern and a risk factor for future suicide. It predominantly occurs in young people with around 65 per cent of self-harm occurring before the age of 35.

The self-harm safe kits, originally developed by Cumbria charity Every Life Matters and adapted locally by Lancashire Mind, contain information and resources about self-harm, recognised self-management tools and signposting to vital support resources. The kits are provided to professionals who may encounter a young people struggling with gaining support and will help with conversations around the reasons for their self-harm.

Helen Parry, a suicide prevention lead for Lancashire and South Cumbria Integrated Care Board (ICB), which organises health and care services across the region, said: “The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in fundamental changes to the lives of children and young people and their mental health. Nationally 54 per cent of 11 to 16-year-olds with probable mental health problems said lockdown had made their lives worse. According to our most recent data, one in six of children aged five to 16 have a probable mental health disorder, an increase from one in nine in 2017.

“Mental health has been identified as a major risk and education services have raised concerns over the increased demand for support in schools. In addition, the number of hospital admissions due to self-harm in people aged between 10 and 24 in Lancashire is higher than the national average.

“The self-harm safe kits are developed to provide support, guidance and connection for people aged 13 and older. The kits come with an offer of an instructional session to all organisations that handle the kits, to ensure people are confident with the conversations they are having, at what could be the only time a young person reaches out for help.

“While the kit was developed to encourage personal contact to connect to someone who can start that process of support, it is not in any way a replacement to a higher level of support. It can help to provide ‘self-care’ during the waiting period, a talking point with parents or professionals, a connection or a chance to look within themselves.”

Every Life Matters founder Chris Wood said: “Young people have been very impressed by these kits. One young person really took ownership of the box and used it to talk to her friends and school support about her self-harm. Another young person recently told me she decorated the box as soon as she got it and has not harmed since receiving it.

“Parents and carers often feel very helpless when faced with their child’s self-harm. This resource has been very welcomed by parents as something they can physically use with their child and work together on their self-harm. Parents have fed back they think the pack is great and unique. They have been very thankful for them.”

Self-harm kits are being promoted to coincide with Self Injury Awareness Day today (1 March 2023) to raise awareness of these resources and encourage young people to seek help at a time they need it. The kits are there to help to break the stigma and barriers for people to keep talking about their problems.

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