How The UK Government Is Dealing With Self Harm

There are many sectors in society which can help manage the prevention of self harm, these include; medical and health, media, education, support foundations and so on. This is why it is vital for the government to bring awareness to helping those who self harm through these sectors and more. By looking into the progress these sectors are making with self harm awareness we can determine where more attention is needed and what is working so far.

Since the year 2000 the government has heavily financed the health sector in order to aid those who self harm, however some experts question this move claiming the government should aim to reduce stigma and approach practical prevention rather than mere ‘crisis management’. Dr Andrew McCulloch, chief executive of the Mental Health Foundation, argues the 16-25 year old age group of individuals who self harm would likely veer away from specialist clinics. By associating with mental health such organisations would make particularly young individuals feel uncomfortable. This is why places such as youth centres, sports clubs and schools would be valuable to help those who self harm as they are more familiar to that particular age group. By drawing attention to the simple and non specialist methods for self harm we can encourage individuals to step forward for help and also reduce the belief that self harm is solely a mental health issue.

Aside from young people, other areas of society demand the government’s attention such as immigration for example. Figures released in 2010 claimed a rise in self harm cases in immigration detention centres leading to the development of the Assessment Care in Detention and Teamwork (ACDT). This allows staff to be trained to assist and properly treat self harm and suicide.

According to the Mental Health Foundation however the treatment and misinformation about self harm has not really changed. Professionals such as teachers and GPs have limited knowledge on the issue, thereby reacting negatively to individuals making them reluctant to ask for help, especially children. After conducting the ‘National Inquiry into self-harm among young people’ 6 years ago, the same study carried out recently showed little change in results.

Whilst it can be argued that changes are being made in approaches to self harm awareness, evidence suggests there is more to be done. Attention must be drawn towards the health and education sector where those who self harm are likely to seek help, as well as other sectors. Recent exposure in the media has shone a light on the reality of self harm such as a BBC’s ‘It’s a Mad World’ season with documentaries highlighting mental illness within the football world, mental ill health amongst teenagers and even debate shows on the status of mental health in the UK. This goes to show that attention is being drawn to self harm and although certain perceptions and ideas still have not changed, as with many sensitive and challenging issues the government have to deal with, it takes time.

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