Project MH38

SORTS – SuppOrtive Response To Self-harm: Design of an online training programme and support tool for secondary schools to improve response to young people who self-harm

This study aimed to design an online training programme and support tool to improve the staff response to students who self-harm. This project was in partnership with the Charlie Waller Trust to develop the training content. This online programme and support tool was designed by working closely with secondary school students, school staff and mental health practitioners.

Background

In the UK, self-harm among young people is more common than in any European country. Nearly 20% of young people report that they self-harm and the risk increases sharply during the teenage years. Research shows that young people who self-harm are more likely to have mental health difficulties in later life and are at a higher risk of suicide. Reports suggest the COVID-19 pandemic has negatively impacted young people's mental health and a recent survey shows that 10% of 8 -13 year olds reported having self-harmed at least once during the lockdown period. Despite this, only a fifth of YP who self-harm receive help from health services.

Project Aims

This study aimed to design an online training programme and support tool to improve the staff response to students who self-harm. We call the programme SORTS – SuppOrtive Response To Self-harm.

Project Activity

Firstly, this project developed a hi-fidelity prototype of the SORTS training programme. This study then explored young people's expectations of how schools and staff should address. They also facilitated advisory group co-design workshops with school staff.

Anticipated Impact

The main outputs from this study: a prototype of an online training programme and support tool for school staff to improve their response to young people who self-harm (SORTS programme) and final design specification for the development of SORTS beta version. The prototype included a selection of interactive tools and techniques to deliver the content and enable users to practice and consolidate new skills. Content and tools were co-produced with end users and include:

  • Interactive presentations delivering information about self-harm (e.g. incidence, risk factors, warning signs, understanding different ways young people disclose)
  • Knowledge quizzes
  • Young people’s testimonies about their experience of school staff finding out about them or someone else’s self- harming
  • Video clips showing different scenarios and different responses to disclosure of self-harm (including analysis of conversations with students, peers and communicating with parents/carers)
  • Serious games in which users can practice different responses to disclosure of self-harm and encourage students to seek help
  • A toolkit to help schools develop their own self-harm policy including guidance on checking-in on students following disclosure in medium to longer term
  • A bank of resources to help staff connect students with appropriate support and for teachers to use in PSHE lessons

Who is involved?

Contact

Joanna Anderson, jpa44@medschl.cam.ac.uk

MH38