Teachers and schools can play a major role in helping to raise a student’s self esteem as this helps to bolster the self worth and resilience of students. Self esteem is an aspect of how we value ourselves; and can affect our trust in other people, in our abilities, and affects relationships. Teachers are in a unique position to identify and forestall early symptoms as well as possibilities of self harm. One strategy is for the teacher to devise a means of helping such a student stop or gradually lessen the use of ineffective or damaging coping behaviours which, according to mental health professionals, often mask possible feelings of vulnerability, emotional distress, low self esteem, childhood neglect as well as hopelessness.
A teacher could also rely upon the attribution theory for offering guideposts for effectively bolstering self esteem and confidence in a student who possibly has challenges with self defeating characteristics. The issue of mental health problems isn’t just limited to particular groups; they also span all classes; race and cultures and self harm is no different.
Self-harm is not just expressed in terms of the individual cutting, inflicting self-harm, or self-injury, but it includes a wide range of things people deliberately do to themselves that are harmful but usually not fatal. This can be a very traumatic time for young people and those who care for them, however. Problems with self esteem could also be as a result of childhood neglect or of emotional distress resulting from negligence or intentional acts of another person.
According to available statistics, one in twelve young people are said to subscribe to or adopt self harming behaviour whilst the last ten years in-patient admissions resulting form self injury have increased by 68%. It is very worrisome that a vast number of very young people are subscribing to self-harm as a solution to coping with life’s difficult pressures. It is otherwise erroneous that self harm is often dismissed as just an attention seeking behavioural pattern; rather it is a sign that young people are feeling terrible internal pain and are not coping well with life’s challenges.
Research also suggests that peer support can be helpful but then seems to work best when it is used alongside a whole school approach to mental health and reducing social isolation. Teachers can make good and proper use of self harm training resources for teachers available to them in solving these anomalies and to help to gradually reduce the rate at which students self harm.
The reasons for self-harm seem to vary greatly, and are specific to the individual, however a young person may subscribe to self-harm to help them cope with negative feelings, emotional distress, pains resulting from childhood neglect, , to feel more in control or to punish themselves.
The World Health Organization also suggests that the following strategies are important in helping to greatly reduce the possibilities of future self harming occurrences:
- Helping students to have a strong sense of identity.
- Promoting both the stability and continuity of students’ education.
- Promoting healthy diet and good eating habits.
- Promoting emotional expression.
- Curbing both violence and bullying tendencies at school and in the community, where possible.
- Providing information about services and accessing specialist support early on.
- Self harm training and raising of staff self harm awareness and in the context of a school policy.
In identifying preventive measures, work in schools can help to reduce and help prevent self-harm as well as attempts at suicide. However, quite a number of young people would prefer to turn to their peers for support whilst many have said that all they want is to be able to talk to someone who will listen attentively to and respect them. Schools can also provide support for their friends and peers who have been confided in about the self harming behaviour.