Summary of report content
Healthwatch Nottingham and Nottinghamshire identified the mental health of young people as a top priority in 2019/2020. They decided to research self-harm as there was a gap in knowledge – both for young people and people over 25. They undertook a survey and in depth interviews. In total they spoke to 1,709 people.
Friends, relatives (including parents) and partners are the most commonly chosen initial source of support for self-harm by young people, whereas for adults over 25, the most common source is the GP/nurse.
Although the internet was identified as a place they would turn to for support with self-harm by around a quarter of young people and almost 40% of over 25s, it was not commonly where people actually turned for help for themselves or for someone they knew, perhaps suggesting that people prefer to speak to someone in person.
A small proportion of young people did not know where to go for help or would do nothing. Likewise, a proportion did not get support, and kept the fact of self harming to themselves. This is of concern, since these young people are potentially vulnerable and unsupported.
Young people experienced difficulties in finding and accessing support, with long waits to be seen in some services and even when accessed, considerable variation in the effectiveness of that support.
When using support services for self-harm, young people are clear that the most important features, of a service that makes a difference to them, are having someone to talk to, being listened to and not feeling so alone.
Stigma around self-harm is still a major problem for both young people and adults over 25, affecting how they feel, and if or how they access support for self-harm.
The report sets out what young people with experience of self harm need from a support service and approaches that they found unhelpful.
The report includes recommendations on information, training and service provision.