Improving Care in Self-harm HIT achievements 2021-22

  • 1st April 2022

Even though many help resources exist, including online, young people are sometimes reluctant to seek assistance with their mental health. There is also evidence to suggest that many of these services don’t adequately help young people in crisis, and little is known about how – and to what extent – young people seeking help online can be encouraged to engage with ‘real world’ care pathways in a timely way. Indeed, the specific characteristics required to develop good, engaging online help for young people experiencing these crises are still largely unknown.

HIT co-director Dr Lucy Biddle conducted a Delphi (consensus) study with a panel of young people and a separate panel of mental health practitioners. This has been used to derive preliminary guidance for practitioners about acceptable and effective ways of exploring digital technology use and its impacts with young people during mental health consultations. Materials have been prepared to enable piloting and Lucy is in the process of seeking ethical approval for this study.

See Lucy talking about the background to this research:

The pandemic has seen increasing numbers of people struggling with their mental health. Feedback from GPs suggested that having some concise and accessible resources would be useful, and we also asked people who self-harm what they thought needed to be included. We have since developed online self-harm resources for GPs to help support those over 18 years old who self-harm or experience suicidal thoughts.

These resources became publicly available on REMEDY in September 2021. REMEDY is a pathway and referral support tool, providing quick and easy access to clinical pathways and guidelines for GPs across Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire. The pages look at key areas to consider when supporting this patient group. The documents cover the functions of self-harm; risk assessing in self-harm and suicide; suicide risk red flags; safety planning; and tips for medically unexplained symptoms. Poems written by a person who self-harms, explaining their experiences of accessing treatment and support, are also included.

Co-director Sandy Walker also supported the evaluation of a reflective practice project at North Bristol NHS Trust, which provided extra mental health and emotional space for nurses on a trauma ward looking after patients who had severely self-harmed. The write up of this evaluation was published in the RCNi journal Mental Health Practice in December 2021.