Self Harm Awareness for Parents and Carers

Self Harm Awareness Sessions for Parents and Carers

Satveer Nijjar - Independent Trainer/Public Speaker


Monday 20th November 2023

18:00 to 20:00

This awareness session on self-harm is for all parents and carers, regardless as to whether they have experienced self-harm in their families or not. The session aims to build knowledge and confidence by reducing the fear and stigma of the subject.

This session will cover the following areas: 

  • improve your understanding of self-harm behaviours

  • look at what leads someone to self-harm

  • what functions the person gets from the behaviour

  • how best to broach suspected self-harm

  • what to say / not to say to someone who is self-harming

  • alternative strategies to self-harm you can offer

This is a two-hour awareness raising session that Satveer has delivered nationally in a range of state and independent schools.  A full handout for attendees will be made available, via the school, after the session.

We are aware that parents and carers want to learn more about mental health as increasing numbers of young people are becoming affected. There has been a 77% rise in the number of children needing specialist treatment for severe mental health crisis. There were 409,347 referrals for U18’s to the NHS in England for specialist care for issues such as suicidal thoughts and self harm between April and October 2021 and the Children’s Commissioner for England stated that a shocking 1 in 6 children had a probable mental health condition. Sadly, for many young people, self-harm has become a way to manage their distress but is an area that often carries a lot of fear and stigma. The Millennium Cohort study (2020 – pre-pandemic) found that in response to the question have you ever hurt yourself “on purpose in an attempt to end your life”, 7% of the 17 year old’s replied yes. When asked if they had self-harmed during the previous year, 24% responded that they had.

"As a parent, you hope you would never ever have to deal with anything like this, but information evenings like this, promoting awareness of issues that are ever more present amongst our young people today are so important. It was a really informative, interesting and surprisingly enjoyable evening given the subject matter. Satveer was extremely engaging in her delivery, and I am sure everyone walked away from the meeting having more of an understanding and appreciation of the issues involved, I certainly did." Parent attendee at a school session.

As a school we aim to take into account the current issues impacting upon young people in today’s society in order to encourage help-seeking behaviour. Sometimes though, this can mean talking about difficult subjects; self-harm and suicidal thoughts being two of these. We want to be proactive and tackle these issues to reduce the stigma, raise awareness and encourage our students to seek support if relevant.  We will be running sessions led by Satveer in school, initially for Sixth Form students and then potentially for Years 10 and 11. She will also deliver a full staff training session prior to the Parents’ evening on the 20th November.

Often parents/carers can become fearful in such an emotive and sensitive subject being discussed, some may even fear that it could lead to students ‘getting ideas’ to self-harm, or the fear that the school has a ‘problem’ with this issue. We would like to reassure you that this is not the case, as a school we are simply being responsive to the needs of young people. Young people feel under-educated on this subject and often it is not that they want information for their self-harm thoughts/behaviour, but because a peer has disclosed their self-harm to them and they don’t know what to do.

There is no evidence to suggest that talking about self-harm in sessions like the ones proposed will lead to self-harm behaviours. Satveer delivers the subject in an interactive manner and takes the lead from the students. The aim of the session is to raise awareness firstly of the importance of mental health, then break down the stigma surrounding mental illness. Self-harm is brought in gradually to the session with information being given to students as to what can lead to self-harm, how to support a peer if they disclose self-harm and how to support yourself if you are self-harming. Students are also informed about the importance of seeking support at the earliest opportunity and not feel that they can only do so if the situation has got to the point where they are self-harming. In no way is self-harm promoted or encouraged. The feedback from sessions from pupils has consistently been excellent for Satveer, with students often commenting on her ability to relate to their issues.

Parental sessions aim to provide a better understanding of self-harm and how to support your child if they are self-harming. The session is not targeted solely at parents whose children have self-harmed, they are about raising awareness and thereby all parents are invited to attend.

If you would like to read more about Satveer’s experience, please visit her website at @_satveernijjar