Student Life has been asked to collaborate with the national Samaritans charity on a self-harm inquiry. Earlier this year and pre-lockdown, we met a steering group of MP’s in Westminster. An All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) was being chaired by Liz Twist MP and was undertaking the inquiry by bringing together experts through oral evidence sessions, as well as collecting written evidence, to better understand what services exist for young people who self-harm, how effective these are and how they can be improved. Once this evidence was collected, the APPG produced a report, setting out recommendations for how young people who self-harm can be better supported through services.
The inquiry explored the experiences of young people who self-harm in accessing support services. In particular, it examined:
- Support services currently available in both clinical and the wider community settings (including schools)
- Plans for improving and expanding this support
- The changes needed to ensure that support is made more effective and widely available.
The inquiry focused on the experience of young people up to the age of 25, given the high and rising rates of self-harm among this group and we were proud that 2 of our steering group took part.
In the past few weeks and following the relaxation of lockdown measures, the project re-started in earnest. Student Life is in the enviable position of having over 1400 young people signed up as collaborators with its main work in schools, colleges and universities across Suffolk, Norfolk and Kent and was therefore able to offer some of those young collaborators the chance to work with Samaritans, on the next phase of the national self-harm awareness campaign. These young volunteers were involved in a recent workshop which was run by Samaritans in conjunction with London-based market research company CRD. The aim of the workshop was to gain an insight into young people’s perception of Samaritans as an organisation and how a self-harm awareness campaign should be produced. The Student Life participants were all young people who had previously self-harmed, as a coping mechanism for periods of mental ill-health.
Following this workshop, those young people – and others – took part in a follow up session that looked at the storyboard of a short film which Samaritans is planning on producing and promoting as part of its national self-harm awareness campaign. This is a major collaboration for Student Life and reaffirms our status on a regional and national scale. All of our student collaborators are very proud.