Students at secondary schools across North Lancashire will receive specialist support for self-harming issues under a new service being launched this month, thanks to £187,000 funding from Health Education England and the Department of Health. Young people will be able to access support from the Mind and Body programme offered by Young Addaction Lancashire.
The programme involves one-to-one sessions and a programme of hour-long groups with those aged 14-17 who are already self-harming, or are vulnerable to risk-taking behaviour such as self-cutting, burning, picking, bruising, scratching, self-poisoning and self strangulation. The focus will be on exploring thoughts and actions in relation to self-harm, looking at why risks are taken and how to reduce them and help develop communication, self-expression and assertiveness skills.
The Mind and Body programme has been developed in consultation with young people and professionals from the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS) and draws on the experience Addaction has delivering the programme elsewhere in the UK.
Addaction’s operations manager for the programme, Rick Bradley, said:
“The reasons why young people self-harm can be massively different. It could be home life, school life, struggling to manage feelings and thoughts in a positive way. But the thing that joins it together is finding other young people in the same position to talk to. The key success of this project elsewhere has been giving young people the chance to open up in a group and stop feeling so isolated.”
The project is a pilot for North Lancashire and funded for one year by Health Education England’s Innovation Fund, aimed at supporting new ways of providing access to good quality mental health services for children and young people. Paula Harrison, Young Addaction manager for North and Central Lancashire, said:
“We are delighted that the Innovation Fund has given us the opportunity to pilot this much-needed piece of work. Self-harm is prevalent in young people and we will be addressing stigma and breaking down barriers in accessing support. Addaction will be seeking additional monies to maximise the programme’s potential and support further young people over a number of years.”
Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said:
“Schemes such as this represent another step in fulfilling our promise to establish genuine parity between mental and physical health. We want to end the taboo around mental health – funding local innovations such as Addaction’s vital training is the best way to make this a reality and help more young people than ever before.”
Professor Lisa Bayliss-Pratt, Director of Nursing and Deputy Director of Education and Quality at Health Education England said:
“We are excited by this initiative as it will provide an ideal opportunity to introduce and enhance services to transform the lives of children and young people. This additional funding means that children, young people and their families can get the tailored support they need through the delivery of improved, more accessible mental health and wellbeing services to ensure they are not only well-supported, but thrive, which will transform the care and lives of many across the country.”
By improving young people’s mental health, the hope is to also reduce other risky behaviours such as substance misuse and offending. Reducing further self-harm will also reduce the costs to primary care and A&E admissions.