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Question for Department of Health

UIN HL780, tabled on 2 July 2014

To ask Her Majesty's Government what they are doing to support those, in particular teenagers, who are self-harming or at risk of self-harming.

Answered on

15 July 2014

Spotting the signs of mental health problems early in children and young people is essential to prevent problems from escalating and continuing into adulthood.

On 25 March the Minister of State for Care and Support (Norman Lamb) launched MindEd, an interactive e-learning programme on mental health designed to help any adult working with children and young people. Funded by the department, the learning and resources provided by the MindEd e-portal are designed to extend the skills and knowledge of National Health Service clinicians and professionals such as teachers, social workers, counsellors and supervisors working in a range of educational and youth settings.

The Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS) is there to support children of school age with mental health problems, including those who are found to be self-harming.

On 16 June 2014, the Department for Education issued advice for school staff on mental health and behaviour. This new advice links to existing advice on behaviour and discipline, which indicates that schools should consider whether continuing disruptive behaviour arises from unmet mental health needs.

The advice will help schools identify and support pupils with an unmet mental health condition. It will give teachers the confidence to:

differentiate between poor behaviour linked to potential mental health problems and poor behaviour which cannot be explained in this way;

identify those with less severe problems at an early stage and build their resilience through the school's pastoral system, using external agencies where necessary;

identify those with more severe mental health needs and make timely referrals to statutory and/or voluntary agencies, including CAMHS.

National Institute for Health and Care Excellence guidelines make it clear that anyone who attends an emergency department for self-harm should be offered a comprehensive assessment of their physical, psychological and social needs. Self-harm has been identified as a priority for action in the Mental Health Action Plan, Closing the Gap: Priorities for essential change in mental health, published January 2014.A copy has already been placed in the Library.

Preventing suicide in England: A cross-government outcomes strategy to save lives was published on 10 September 2012. The suicide prevention strategy is backed by up to £1.5 million funding through the Policy Research Programme, to help us better understand key aspects of suicide and self-harm, including looking at self-harm in young people and the role of the internet and social media.