Self-harm is a complex issue. There is no single reason why people choose to self-harm, or a single way to treat it. It is vital that we reduce stigma surrounding issues such as self-harm so that people feel able to ask for support or open up about their problems.
That’s why I am supporting self-harm awareness day, a day when nationally we can call for an end to stigma and raise awareness of this issue. It is up to all of us to help those who need it.
In order to make this a reality we are revolutionising mental health support. We have given record investment to transform mental health services, including putting mental health professionals in A&E and making sure care is available for those in crisis. Although we have seen excellent headway we must continue to do more, and focus on breaking down stigma of self-harm.
I am proud that we have invested £12.5million in the Time To Change campaign to raise awareness and tackle the stigma around mental health. Just last week they launched the latest wave of their campaign, called #InYourCorner, the video for which can be viewed online here.
In January, we published our updated suicide prevention strategy and we expanded its scope to address, for the first time, self-harm as an issue in its own right. There was an explicit focus on improving how services respond to cases of self-harm, and many parts of the country already have established strong preventative plans. These include stronger outreach and liaison services, dedicated care for young people who self-harm and training programmes to help health professionals, police and other community services to understand how to identify and respond to people in acute distress. A central part to this is making sure men and women receive the right support, in the right place and at the right time.
It is important to acknowledge that while self-harming may be an issue for people of all ages, it is especially so for young people. The Prime Minister announced in January that the Government will develop a Green Paper on children and young people’s mental health enabling us to explore the issues that may affect them, and how we can best direct support.
In addition, NHS England will develop a new care pathway for self-harm, which will provide greater consistency in how those groups are cared for across the NHS, with consistent treatment guidelines for the recognition, treatment and management of self-harm.
Progress is being made, but what today highlights is how everyone can help those who are self-harming – we are all responsible to offer support to our friends, family and colleagues. We must create a new environment where discussing emotions and asking for help is the norm. I urge everyone to think about those who may be self-harming, and to show people who may be currently injuring themselves or in danger of doing so that it’s ok to speak out.
Minister for Public Health and Innovation, Nicola Blackwood