Self Harm

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Self-harm describes a range of actions that someone might do to deliberately hurt themselves, including actions such as cutting, over-dosing, hitting, burning or scalding, skin picking or scratching, pulling hair, ingesting toxic substances, and disordered eating. People engage in self-harming for many different reasons, but it is usually in response to stress, distress, and challenging situations, however sometimes there is no clear reason. Self-harm in young people is quite common, affecting about 1 in 5. This is also reflected in Devon, where the results of the most recent pupil wellbeing survey in 2021 showed that 23% of the secondary age pupils who took part had cut or hurt themselves. Self-harm affects young people of any age, gender, ethnicity, and background.  

Having supportive adults in school can be hugely helpful to pupils who are struggling with self-harm, who often feel isolated and shameful. If you think or notice someone is self-harming, advice on the steps to take can be found here (Self-harm guidance for school staff – Support for schools and settings ( As part of the support, it is important that schools develop a whole school approach to mental health and wellbeing, which includes mental health policy, appropriate awareness and training, inclusion of self-harm within PSHE, and crucially recognising the need to support staff who are helping pupils with self-harm. Take a look at the resources below to support with developing a whole school approach and teaching about self-harm.  

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