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The Mental Health Foundation on The Truth about Self-Harm

The Mental Health Foundation is a UK based charity with a mission to help people understand, protect and sustain their mental health.

They created an updated version of their title The Truth about Self-Harm for our Reading Well for young people scheme. Here Una Foye, who contributed to the title, explains why resources like the book list are important for young people dealing with issues around self-harm.

Self-harm is a topic not many people feel comfortable talking about. If we do not always feel OK to talk about it, how can we expect people struggling with it to ask for help?

Statistics suggest 10% of young people self-harm – that’s at least two children in every classroom. There are likely more who will never disclose their self-harm. We simply cannot ignore this.

Recognising the stigma

Recognising the stigma attached to self-harm, I was incredibly pleased when the young people involved in the co-production of the latest Reading Well Books on Prescription scheme approached the Mental Health Foundation to create a special, library friendly version of The Truth about Self-Harm so it could appear on the list.

Making information available at libraries

Providing information young people can pick up and take away is a good way to reach those who are vulnerable and silenced by the stigma surrounding mental health problems. Being 15 and feeling worried because you self-harm can be lonely and challenging. Visiting a local library and taking away a booklet like The Truth about Self-Harm could be a lifeline for someone.

Why we wrote the booklet

I’ve always asked the young people I’ve worked with to write down anything they find difficult to say. In the same way, professionals can provide information and support through the written word to make it more manageable and easier to take in for young people, parents and practitioners alike.

There is a lack of current, accessible resources on self-harm. We put together the booklet to help anyone worried about self-harm understand what it is, why people do it and where to seek support.

The evidence-based guide was written by our research team and has been checked by leading experts in the field of self-harm. This ensures that young people using the scheme are getting the most up-to-date information, self-help strategies and guidance on self-harm.

The future

And even more can be done. Further research into prevention, effective strategies and best practice is pivotal in improving the lives of people who self-harm. It isn’t something that is going to disappear through our silence. We need to let people know that help is available and that they are not alone.

Get involved

Pick up The Truth about Self-Harm or any of the other Reading Well for young people titles free from your local library or access a digital version on the Mental Health Foundation’s website.

The Mental Health Foundation suggests the following websites for further information and support:

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