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Improving Services & Outcomes for People who Self Harm

Chaired by Sean Duggan Chief Executive The Centre for Mental Health, today's conference focuses on improving services and outcomes for people who self harm.  Through national updates and practical case studies, the day demonstrates how the pathway for those who self harm can be improved from identification and early intervention, improving services for those in crisis and presenting in emergency departments, developing effective services and working with people to improve coping strategies, to reducing suicide, mitigating risk and managing the impact of self harm. 

The conference opened with a presentation from Rachel Welch Founder Freedom from Harm with a session on building understanding, which covers:

  • challenge the hidden nature of the self-harm
  • the importance of being open about self harm
  • building understanding and support in a pro-recovery environment 

Rachel Welch Founder Freedom from Harm Full Presentation Click Here

In her presentation Rachel Stated: 

“A huge part of the recovery processes are the long term consequences like scars.”

“Challenge Stigma – we need to make phases like self harm normal – I try not to use the phase self harmer”

“We need to reinforce there identify and not use the words self harmer – self harm is just part of who they are”

“We need to counter pro-self harm propaganda – social media is key for this and we need to make sure we dilute social media with positive information”

“We need to get out of the mind set that self harm is exclusively young people, I have had people in there 40’s start to self harm”

“Sometime we just need to accept that self harm may be the safest option – people that have been self harming for a long time know what they are doing – I am not advocating self harm, but sometimes it is the safest option when you are working with them with therapy”

“We need person led approaches – services are very stretched – often I work with school and ask them what do you think you can do that will be helpful? How creative can you be to help?”

“Its not just about the injuries its about how that person feels – the emotional state”

“My hope moving forward is that we can change the current culture we have, that we can talk about it, we can reimage the services offered”

“There is no shame is self harm – but that is not the experience of people that go through it – we need to make it possible for people how are married kids etc able to come and get the help they need”

Rachel Welch Biography​:

Rachel has been working in mental health for over 12 years, having most recently stepped down after almost 6 years as the Director of selfharmUK, a national project aimed specifically at meeting the needs of young people impacted by self-harm. Rachel pioneered selfharmUK from its very inception:

  • Developing a new voice for communicating with young people
  • Creating a safe online space to find support and access helpful pro-recovery information 
  • Disseminating training and resources to schools and youth workers 

In response to the growing numbers of people reaching adulthood with unresolved issues, Rachel has now founded Freedom From Harm. Young adulthood is a time of unique challenges, and these are particularly highlighted for those struggling with self-harm and/or eating disorders when attending University, commencing employment, building relationships/marriage, entering into parenthood etc. Freedom From Harm seeks to address these, recognising many young adults may no longer have the same support networks enjoyed in adolescence. 

Rachel Welch Presentation Abstract: 

Today’s society continues to make it very difficult for those affected by self-harm to ask for help or be open about how they feel and manage their emotions. A large number of people continue to suffer in silence, despite better reporting in the media and campaigns such as Self-harm Awareness Day promoting positive messages of hope. It is vital that strategies are introduced to break the cycle of silence whilst ensuring effective help and support is available through statutory services, recognising that demand will always outweigh availability. Rachel will be addressing these issues and outlining the reasons why self-harm remains a hidden illness for many, using lived experiences to highlight what sufferers believe are the most effective ways to reach them, and tackle the barriers that continue to get in the way of asking for help.

Self-harm continues to be shrouded in secrecy, and there’s a need to challenge that silence whilst maintaining the delicate balance between normalising the reality of self-harm without minimising the real risks to health and wellbeing. Small changes within society may encourage earlier disclosures and subsequently lessen the need for referrals for those who can be safely supported by the voluntary/charitable sector and through their own individual networks. 

Useful websites - |

The morning continued with a presentation on Zero Suicide: preventing death from self harm from Dr Caroline Dollery Clinical Director East of England Strategic Clinical Network.

Following the morning tea break Jude Sellen-Cole Founder Impact Wellbeing Tackling Trauma Building Response discussed Creating an integrated CAMH Service and response to support the Acute/Community Pathway for children and young people who present at A&E having self-harmed. Followed by Dr Alys Cole-King Consultant Liaison Psychiatrist Royal College of Psychiatrists spokesperson on suicide and self harm/Clinical Director Connecting with People who discussed What should an effective self harm pathway look like and covered:

  • the elements of an effective self harm pathway
  • risk management or risk mitigation?
  • averting crisis: what works?
  • safe and effective triage, referral and response 

Dr Alys Cole-King Consultant Liaison Psychiatrist Royal College of Psychiatrists spokesperson on suicide and self harm/Clinical Director Connecting with People Full Presentation Click Here

Also of interest:

Improving Mental Health Services for Men
Thursday 19 May 2016
Hallam Conference Centre, London

Masterclass: The Use of Restrictive Interventions: The legal framework
Tuesday 7 June 2016
Hallam Conference Centre, London

Improving Mental Health Crisis Care: Maintaining Momentum
Wednesday 22 June 
ICO Conference Centre, London

Towards Zero Suicide: Preventing Suicide, Saving Lives
Thursday 15 September 
ICO Conference Centre, London

13 May 2016


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