This policy is written with reference to the Trinity Catholic School Mission Statement:
“This Catholic School will seek to educate the whole person, academically, morally, socially and spiritually through the example of Jesus Christ and the witness of committed capable teachers.”(Mission Statement)
Self-harm is a significant issue among young people, often indicating an underlying mental health concern. Self-harm is not a new phenomenon, but is becoming increasingly evident in schools. Self-harm is deliberate behaviour with the intent of causing non-fatal injury to attain relief of tension. There are various methods of self-harm tools used by young people, with the seriousness of the injuries differing greatly including: skin picking and scratching, moderate cuts and burns to taking an overdose of medication.
Self-harm is often associated with a history of trauma such as sexual abuse and or mental health conditions such as depression or eating disorders. However, self-harm can occur independent of mental health disorders or prior trauma and there is a growing trend of self-harming behaviour in adolescents without a diagnosed mental health issue. Essentially, any life event or circumstance that leads to the inability to develop healthy coping strategies can precipitate self-harming behaviour.
Bullying, peer relationships, abuse, neglect, family difficulties, boy/girlfriend troubles, sexuality, loneliness, pressures of exams, drug or alcohol problems, eating disorders etc… can trigger self-harming behaviour. In addition, social modelling can play an important role as those who have a friend who self-harms are more likely to do it.
Young people who self-harm are usually experiencing a great deal of sadness, anxiety, hopelessness and isolation. They have difficulty in experiencing, expressing and regulating thoughts and feelings. The purpose of self-harm is emotional regulation, in other words it is used and becomes a coping strategy to help the young person feel better. For some, physical pain may be easier to deal with than emotional pain.
Self-harm can develop into a negative coping pattern. This behaviour is repetitive in nature and can have an addictive quality. The risk for an accidental death can increase with each incident of self-harm.
Self-harm and Suicide
There is a distinction between self-harm as a negative coping skill and self-harm occurring with suicidal ideation. Self-harming behaviour is aimed at coping with life, and not ending it.
The underlying characteristics of self-harming and suicidal behaviour differ in their intention, method, potential to be fatal and frequency.
|Characteristics||Self-harming behaviour||Suicidal behaviour|
|Intention||To relieve emotional pain; to live and feel better||To put an end to unbearable pain; to die|
|Method||Thought to be non-lethal||Lethal and thought to be lethal|
|Potential to be fatal||Unlikely and perceived by the person as not fatal||Highly likely or seen by the person as likely to be fatal|
|Frequency||Frequent; daily, weekly, monthly and repeated over time||Most likely to be a single or occasional attempt|
Procedures for incidents of self-harm either within school or disclosed within school
If an incident of self-harm occurs during the school day or a pupil discloses that they have self-harmed, respond calmly and neutrally to prevent reinforcing the behaviour.
Acknowledge what the pupil has done in a matter of fact way.
A disclosure should be immediately reported to the Designated Safeguarding Lead (DSL): Mrs Ella Aitchison or Mrs Sarah Wilkinson or to the Headteacher
The procedures set out below will then be followed:
- Pupil is interviewed by DSP and the level of risk is ascertained. (Is the behaviour motivated by intent to die?)
- If possible and/or appropriate, wounds are examined/treated by first aiders: Mrs J Maltby or Mrs A Mount
- Parents/carers of pupil are contacted and if deemed necessary asked to come in to school for a meeting regarding their child’s self-harm
- It is recommended that parents/carers seek guidance/support from their GP
- All notes are recorded in the safeguarding diary and/or pupil’s Confidential file
- Relevant members of staff are informed: Progress Co-ordinators, SLT etc
Depending on the level of risk some or all of the following may be actioned:
- Time out and support – Elim House/Emmaus Centre
- Referral to the school nurse
- Referral to school mentoring service: Heather Ridgley
- Referral to Faith in Families counsellor
- Referral to CAMHS and/or seen at school via SHARPS drop-in
- Referral to Harmless or Kooth
- Referral to Children’s Social Care to register concerns about pupil’s safety and emotional well being
- Risk assessment written and shared with relevant agencies to minimise risk to pupil whilst at school
- Parent/carer asked to collect their child from school
- Pupil taken straight to A&E for assessment by hospital self-harm team
Pending new policy from OLOL MAT Oct/Nov 2019