This report from the Samaritans finds that there is no consistently effective support available to people who self-harm. The research identified four key support needs for people who self-harm, which are seen as essential to providing effective care:
- distraction from immediate self-harm urges
- emotional relief in times of stress
- developing alternative coping strategies
- addressing the underlying reasons for self-harm.
The report makes a number of recommendations of how the needs of people who self-harm can be met more effectively:
- Government should ensure that planned investment in mental health support through the Long Term Plan results in specialist mental health services such as Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) being supported with additional resource to increase expertise and capacity to support people who self-harm.
- NHS England should work with third sector experts and people with lived experience to develop a free self-care app for anyone who has presented to clinical services having self-harmed.
- GPs should be given more training to support them to deal with people who have self-harmed in a trauma informed way as well as being better informed about the types of care that can be effective in supporting people who self-harm.
- Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) and DCMS should provide voluntary and community-based organisations with funding so they can provide a more consistent alternative to NHS support for people who self-harm.